Group (online social networking)

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A group (often termed as a community, e-group or club) is a feature in many social network services which allows users to create, post, comment to and read from their own interest- and niche-specific forums, often within the realm of virtual communities. Groups, which may allow for open or closed access, invitation and/or joining by other users outside the group, are formed to provide mini-networks within the larger, more diverse social network service. Much like electronic mailing lists, they are also owned and maintained by owners, moderators, or managers, which possess the capability of editing posts to discussion threads and regulating member behavior within the group. However, unlike traditional Internet forums and mailing lists, groups in social networking services allow owners and moderators alike to share account credentials between groups without having to log into each and every group.


The rise of the World Wide Web resulted in an expansion of the varieties of methods for communication on the Internet, much of which was limited in the 1980s to discussion in newsgroups, BBS and chat rooms. While the initial rise of web-based mass communication took place in the form of early Internet forums in the mid-1990s, a few services such as MSN Groups, Yahoo! Groups and eGroups pioneered the combination of web-based mailing list archives with user profiles; by 2000, such services doubled as full-fledged mailing lists and Internet forums, allowing users to create an extremely large variety of discussion and networking mediums with comparatively sparse thresholds of complexity. Further features included chat rooms (often Java-based), image and video galleries, and group calendars.

The second spurt of social networking, one which was less dependent upon mailing list-related features and more upon Internet forum features, began in the early- to mid-2000s in the form of such services as LiveJournal, Friendster, MySpace and Facebook. These services continued the evolution of the web-based e-group as a discussion and organization medium. In the late 2000s, services such as Yammer and Micromobs further advanced e-group communication by taking advantage of microblog-style activity streams.[1]

In virtual worlds[edit]

In Second Life, groups are centered less around discussion forums (as such an asynchronous conferencing feature is not built into the Second Life network as of 2009) and common interest, and are more centered on maintenance of a particular geographic location inside the network. Such groups are often created by the owners of areas such as buildings, plots of land or whole islands in order to cater to the most frequent visitors and patrons of the regions. With the limited asynchronous messaging capability of Second Life, groups are also means of mass-emailing announcements pertinent to the group, but are not completely capable of hosting discussion or deliberation of such announcement messages.

The importance of online social networking groups[edit]

Since we’ve moved a huge part of our social life to the internet online social networking groups has become very important for us to maintain a structure in our social life. Online networking is made up by clusters of people, bounding themselves together on the word wide web.[2] To be able to sort out the many different clusters we belong to we use online groups to helps us arrange and make sense of all our contacts. This sense-making is rooted within us, we sort and put people into compartments or sort by categories to make sense and try to understand our relationships to the people around us. Online social networking groups therefore enables us to do the same thing online.[3]