Social network web sites are the latest internet attraction for general world-wide-web users and businesses alike. They come in a variety of formats, with MySpace and Facebook being the most recognized.
According to daily newspaper Dziennik, they have become more popular than pornography sites, which until recently were the most visited sites on the internet, especially by young people.
Poland’s social network web sites include grono.pl, spinacz.pl, and swoi.pl. The leading site is nasza-klasa.pl (our class). Poland also has a range of business network sites: goldenline.pl, ogniwo.net and biznes.net.
The site nasza-klasa enables Polish graduates from primary and secondary schools to reunite with their old classmates through the web site forum. Facebook was initially designed for a similar purpose targeting university students and graduates, but has now captured a general audience of network users.
Members of social network forums place their profile within the web site and can be contacted or initiate contact with other members of the network. Forums, such as nasza-klasa, can be very addictive as old friends catch up on each other’s lives, loves and losses since their school days.
What started out as a simple and practical way for keeping in contact with the designer’s school friends, nasza-klasa has turned into a goldmine valued at over 15 mln złoty.
As the popularity of social network web sites has grown, nasza-klasa for example gets 500 mln hits a month, they have become an attractive option for big business to advertise their products and services through.
Not everyone is singing the praises of social networking sites though, with the Polish ombudsman making a cautionary claim that such forums can be dangerous for children, potentially exposing them to pornography and violent content. Software giant Microsoft recently purchased a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook for $240 mln staving off a similar offer by search engine behemoth Google, which some in the industry consider the real danger to social network sites as their slice of the online market begins to diminish.