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Social Networks Gaining on Internet Portals 96

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the new-hotness dept.
Compete writes "We have some interesting analysis on how Social Networking sites compare to portals. From a sample size of around 2 million US people, Compete concludes that social networking sites are quickly approaching the traffic level of the big portals like Google and Yahoo. They liken the growth of SNS to email in the 90's. Their key findings: 1. In June, 2 out of every 3 people online visited a social networking site 2. Since January 2004, the number of people visiting or taking part in one of the top online social networks has grown by over 109% 3. Social networking sites are now close to eclipsing traffic to the giants — Google and Yahoo"
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Social Networks Gaining on Internet Portals

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  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:42AM (#15919303) Journal
    2 out of every 3 people online visited a social networking site

    I don't get it. Maybe I'm just too old, but they hold practically zero interest for me. Too old or just too busy (but not to busy for /.)?
    • I must be too old as well. I don't see the appeal.

      And can someone tell me what makes a site a "social networking site"? Youtube.com was on the list, and I thought they just hosted streaming video.
      • Oh, and FP again (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Overzeetop (214511)
        Maybe /. is a social networking site, and we've just missed the reclassification that everything from the usenet (well, bbs, for that matter) on up to forums and the personal blog sites have been social networking. It's just a new flashy term for what we've always been doing. *shrug*

        Oddly, even though my /. time has been somewhat limited of late, I seem to have gotten in inordinate number of first posts in recent weeks. Several years to get the first one, a couple of months to score another three. Go figure
    • by Kryis (947024)
      I dont know how old you are, but there isn't a huge amount that i'm too old for (i'm 20), and the thought of myspace holds no interest for me. Quite a few of my friends have myspace accounts, and some have tried to get me to join and I have just refused, due to the pointlessness of the whole thing. As far as I can see, myspace is just something that people join to try and fit in with friends and be "cool".
      • by AdamWeeden (678591) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:15AM (#15919627) Homepage
        In a way I agree. However, myspace, and by extension other sites like it, DO have some utility. After my wife signed up for a myspace account she ended up getting in touch with quite a few friends from school. I decided to get an account just to see how many of my friends I could get in touch with again, and I was surprised that within one day I had gotten back in touch with numerous good friends and family members that I had lost the contact information for. Now all I do is check it every once in a while (every other week or so) and browse new additions to my high school/college classes and see if it's anyone I would want to get back in touch with. Not to mention any new messages I receive in myspace (including friend requests) I have sent to my email.
        • I use MySpace for the same reason - contact with a whole group of people in one place. I created a MySpace account before moving out of state, as an easy way for many of my friends and I to stay in touch. As a side effect, I ended up reconnecting with a significant number of people from school, many of whom I had not seen or spoken to since we graduated. While there are many things left to be desired about many social networking sites like MySpace, they certainly have their use if you have any desire to
      • "I dont know how old you are, but there isn't a huge amount that i'm too old for (i'm 20), and the thought of myspace holds no interest for me."

        Me too..I'm a bit older age wise, but, I do like to do lots of new things, and am always interested in new stuff out there, but, the myspace thing really doesn't hold any appeal to me. I mean, I usually run my own webservers, so if I want to throw content out there, I do it form there....

        Maybe I'll look into myspace again, but, it just seemed to me a place

      • As far as I can see, myspace is just something that people join to try and fit in with friends and be "cool".

        Yeah it's almost as if people want to socialise on the Internet. How odd.
    • I have seen forums who boast 25,000 registered members who's primary clientele is furry anime porn lovers. To each his own... the thing that I find interesting about the Social Networking sites being in the news is the new revenue potentials... ad-based as well as finding ways to merge themselves to offer lots of content, user generated as well as corp-generated.

      Whether or not they your your thing - there is a market for everything.

    • I think they have more of a draw when quite literally everyone you know also visits them.
    • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:57AM (#15919456)
      I thought /. was Social Networking For Geeks. I don't picture a lot of obscure Hitchhikers Guide jokes in astrophysics threads on MySpace.
    • by porcupine8 (816071) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:07AM (#15919562) Journal
      Looking at what they consider a "social networking site," I'd say that Slashdot would qualify. You talk to other people about common interests, you can add "friends" and "foes," I notice that you've even made at least one entry in your /. journal.

      Congratulations, you're using a social networking site! They're not all MySpace, you know.

    • by vertinox (846076) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:09AM (#15919578)
      I don't get it. Maybe I'm just too old, but they hold practically zero interest for me.

      I think there a growing crowd of aging people on slashdot that is either not motivated with following the herd or just not for new technologies and very doubtful of the future (For example, every time a new technology is mentioned we get someone yelling about "Where are those flying cars you promised?! We'll never see this in 20 years!")

      Then we get those who often complain about Flash video when every knows the net is being dragged screaming and kicking to use flash video technology. Its just the way things are moving.

      The same with social sites. Personally, I'm an old live journal user (well if you think 2001 is old) and would never blog on myspace, but yet I keep a my space site just so I can keep a presence there.

      I'm late twenties almost thirties so I'm kind of old for that age group, but I can't tell you how many people from my old high school have contacted me through my space. Its endearing if nothing else, but as far as spending more than 5 minutes on the site per week, I seriously doubt I would ever do that.

      So the point being is that it appears that most technology nerds on slashdot (including me) aren't really up on technology trends as much as we should. Maybe we don't care... Or maybe we cling to are old ancient technologies and refuse to give up the ghost.

      Still we shouldn't scoff at it and nay say because it obviously these things are bigger than all of us combined like it or not. It's like the old war generals saying cavalry still trumps everything on the battlefield only to get them run over by those new fangled tanks.
      • For example, every time a new technology is mentioned we get someone yelling about "Where are those flying cars you promised?! We'll never see this in 20 years!"

        Speaking of which...
      • by retro128 (318602) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:37AM (#15919881)
        I don't think it's that we are a bunch of old curmudgeons who hate Myspace because it's one of those newfangled thingies, or because we don't understand it. I don't think that it even has to do with average age of its denizens. For me, one thing it has to do with is the TYPE of people it attracts, rather than their age. And what geek on Slashdot would subject themselves to the browser-crashing HTML and attention whoring that is Myspace unless they want to see the boobs of a co-worker or high school classmate?

        But seriously - The other dimension of it is that to be an effective Myspace participant you have to put a ton of information about yourself - Pics, where you went to school, your job, your thoughts, and -best of all-, everyone you have contact with. I don't think it's a secret to anyone here that Slashdotters are acutely averse to letting a lot of detailed info about themselves out, let alone posting it voluntarily. This is especially true since we know that the NSA is trolling MySpace [securitypronews.com] to build a map of the social networks of anyone they spider. Which is probably everyone^N^N^N^N^N^N^N^N^N only terrorists.
        • "But seriously - The other dimension of it is that to be an effective Myspace participant you have to put a ton of information about yourself - Pics, where you went to school, your job, your thoughts, and -best of all-, everyone you have contact with."

          You know..that is another reason maybe I'm not 'out there' on these type sites. While I try not to wear my tin foil hat too tightly, I do like to keep as much personal info off the public web as possible. I figure I'm already in too many databa

        • by Anonymous Coward
          unless they want to see the boobs of a co-worker or high school classmate

          Is there any cause more noble?
        • For me, one thing it has to do with is the TYPE of people it attracts

          One of the whole points (and main benefits, for me) is that the type of person you see and interact with on "social networking" sites are those people in your social network. So yeah, maybe I prefer the "average Slashdotter" to the "average MySpacer or LiveJournaler", but that's irrelevant, because I don't have to deal with the average MySpacer or LiveJournaler. I do, however, have to put up with every troll and flamebaiter out on Slashdot
      • Well, I'll admit I've had my moments. Back in the mid 90s, I had a secretary show me this "new thing" she'd found online called Mosaic. It used http and brought up web pages. After watching her patiently for a couple of mintues, I told her it was neat, but that I could already get that kind of information, and more, on gopher. Three months later I was a convert, and remarked to friends that they would see web addresses replace 800 numbers in advertising in just a couple of years. Sometimes we all miss somet
        • Yeah, I remember the first time I used mosaic. I was like "well, that's well and good, but how do you find anything?". It seemed a little before its time, at the time.

          Then the search engines came along... Webcrawler anyone?
      • it appears that most technology nerds on slashdot (including me) aren't really up on technology trends as much as we should.

        I don't consider the popularity of social networking sites to be a technology trend. Sure, there's technology involved, but there's little technically new. This trend is social, and that's why many /. nerds don't bother to keep up with it. If social networking used newly innovative software platforms or languages slashdotters would be all over it. The fact that some old converging
      • So the point being is that it appears that most technology nerds on slashdot (including me) aren't really up on technology trends as much as we should. Maybe we don't care... Or maybe we cling to are old ancient technologies and refuse to give up the ghost.

        For what it's worth, I tend to think it's a social issue instead of a technology issue. It's the same technology slashdoters use ( and develop ) everyday. It's just packaged in a way that's not useful to us or not appealing to us.
    • I have a MySpace account for one reason: to see what my old friends are up to these days. I have a simple profile, and don't "hang around" myspace at all. I have maybe 15 friends on there, and once a week or so I check profiles to see if anything new has come up in anyone's life.

      Now, how people end up spending hours a day on MySpace I just can't fathom. It's really not that interesting, and some of the profiles there are enough to give you migraines with the horrendous color schemes (yellow text over a
    • They're handy for organising events between friends. The pub etc. Sometimes you meet new people through them which can be interesting.

      I predict that the preponderance of non users will be substantially higher than 30% amongst Slashdot users.

       
      • True, A lot of times it's easier to just tell people to look me up on myspace and leave me a message there, or if I want to "broadcast" something to all my friends, rather than texting/emailing, etc, everyone, I can just post a bulletin and be done with it. So in a way, I only use it as "hub," and my page (a simple div overlay featuring some links and Tux) reflects how limited my use of it is.
      • So we don't "need" social networking to set up events. Most are well planned due to the baggage that are small children. I don't hang out with large groups of friends, so there's no need to broadcast where I'll be bar hopping so everyone I know can join me. Which really brings me back to "I'm too old". Not to do all that stuff, but to need that kind of networking. Families do that to people, and they (usually) don't need internet sites to organize impromtu get togethers.
    • Join the 21st Century! Update .plan and fire up fingerd!
    • by daviddennis (10926) <david@amazing.com> on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @11:22AM (#15920350) Homepage
      Well, it's a way to connect with people. If you're satisfied with the people you have, then a social networking site probably looks pretty stupid. You wouldn't surf match.com if you weren't looking for a date, and you wouldn't be on myspace if you weren't looking for people to connect with.

      If you are, social networking sites can seem pretty neat since there are a lot of people there, some of who are interesting.

      What's really appealing about myspace is that although most people wildly misuse their "space", it is a place where they can be creative and put out things that they like. Those things are not what most programmers think they should like, but the point is that they can be in control and there's plenty of help available to make their profile look as they want it to.

      Human beings in general seem to be more interested in whether something looks "cool" than whether you can read it or not. And that's fine, because they are people and they are expressing themselves. And on myspace, it's relatively easy to find them, which is where I think social networking has a huge advantage over standalone blogs.

      Someone who put hours and hours into breaking myspace has a pretty interesting perspective on it. Funny, too. I'm Popular. [www.namb.la]

      I'm doing my own site, aimed at more mature people than myspace, but it's not ready yet. To show social networking with an adult flair, I consider my best competition to be Tribe [tribe.net]. It used to have adult profiles and ... interesting ... pictures, but sadly their corporate backers decided that wasn't a brainy scheme and removed it. But it's still pretty much social networking for people who have passed the Myspace stage.

      D
      • If you're satisfied with the people you have, then a social networking site probably looks pretty stupid.

        Actually I'd disagree - these sites are very good for interacting with the people you already know (as opposed to say here on Slashdot, where I don't know anyone). I use LiveJournal a lot, but I'm not bothered at all about meeting anyone new there.
    • 2 out of every 3 people online visited a social networking site I don't get it. Maybe I'm just too old, but they hold practically zero interest for me. Too old or just too busy (but not to busy for /.)?

      Or maybe, just maybe - You aren't their target demographic, or it's not just something you are interested in!

      I the quoted comment everytime MySpace is mentioned on Slashdot - where did the idea arise that every site is for everyone?

    • by tehcyder (746570)
      Too old or just too busy (but not to busy for /.)?
      Depending on who's doing the defining, you can count slashdot as a social networking site too.

      >>Shudders.

  • omfglololololo!!!!!1111onenone!!!!11kthxbai...eh? Oh, sorry. Thought this was myspace. :(

    -Raseri
  • friends (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stormi (837687) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:46AM (#15919345) Journal
    Lately people are desperate for friends and life partners. It's obviuos if you just pay attention to the media. How many dating sites are there? Chat rooms? Interest groups? In recent years I've noticed that less and less people seem to be able to go out, meet people, and make friends. This seems to especially be a problem for older rather than younger people. They only social skill they knew was going to bars, and when they realize they no longer want a drunk friend/partner, they face complete isolation. Any new tech that allows people to be social and safe will be popular.
    • I agree and I face this situation on a daily basis. Every potential social outlet has been closed off in the face of shopping malls and such and it seems like the only place to meet anyone is at the bar where you have the choice between the girl with tatoos or one of the girls grinding to "shoot it in her eye" by the bang bang boys. It's getting quite desperate. It's actually getting me to think about going back to school or joining some type of community service organization just to meet people. The wo
  • In June, 2 out of every 3 people online visited a social networking site
    I don't remember filling out that survey
  • by Chatmag (646500) <editor@chatmag.com> on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:49AM (#15919376) Homepage Journal
    "Social Networking" sites is just a buzzword term for a variation of Internet chat channels and forums. People have been doing that for years. That was one of the original concepts behind the Internet, communication.

    The social networking sites offer a few other features, but in the end it's just people wanting to talk with each other.
    • Indeed. I know that most "internet" companies don't realize what "industry" they are in. They think they are in the "internet" business, and that is quite short sighted. It reminds me of the old comment made by a Railroad Magnate, who said ... "We are in the Railroad Business". While that may be true, that is NOT what business he was in, he was in "Trasportation". And had he realized what business he was REALLY in, the whole paradigm would have changed, and our current view of moving things from point A to
  • Like the BBS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by inKubus (199753) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:51AM (#15919392) Homepage Journal
    I just finished watching the BBS Documentary [bbsdocumentary.com] and it reminded me about why BBS's were so cool. I mean, besides bringing the power of global communications to the common man at a low expense, it brought about this whole new online community.

    Many of the interviews talk about how impersonal the internet is, the fact that you might be one in 50,000 people on a newsgroup versus one of 100 or 200 on a BBS. The fact is, before myspace-type sites, it was pretty difficult to create a small online community of your friends without some decent computer skills. Sure, there was IRC, but it was difficult to create static content there. Sure, there were search sites like Classmates.com but no one ever went to them.

    Myspace is really quite primitive, as everyone knows. It's just a simple database blog. Where it shines is the search feature in combination with the ease of custom publishing. You can search for old friends, search by hometown, etc. And with the inclusion of music and video clips, it's a whole multimedia experience. I think that it's the closest thing to the old personal community feeling the BBS had than anything else.

    Sure, there's a lot missing, but I think that if someone were to look at the sucessful old BBS' and modeled a new "Social Networking" site after them (real time chat, files, message boards, multi-player games based on login, just more areas and features), it could be real successful in a hurry. MySpace just doesn't do enough. It's all anyone has right now, of course.

    • By the way, I know about the MySpace chat, but it's garbage. Something more like (or possibly based on) IRC would be perfect. One channel per group, still invite only, with private chat on the side. I know that you can put up links, but a simple file manager with upload button, description, and a group "uploads" folder. Then the moderator could filter the files into appropriate categories, just like in the BBS days. Thus building up a collection of data, rather than a bunch of unsearchable blog posts.
  • Thanks to spam... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bananaguyc (993856) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:54AM (#15919421)
    Since spam has all-but ruined the usefulness of e-mail for non-techies, social-networking lets me communicate with my non-techie friends from work and college without being bothered with keeping track of their current e-mail, their IM usernames and-so on. This is important for matters which are somewhat important, but not urgent enough to bother someone by ringing their cell phone. Prior to MySpace - I've had a few occasions where my friends e-mailed me and I missed their messages among all the Spam B-S that often disguises itself as legitimate mail with innocuous subjects like "Hey". I've also had the same issue when e-mailing other people "I e-mailed you two days ago, you didn't get my message?". And no, I am not a teen. I am 26 years old, post-college, and MySpace has become a good replacement for e-mail in keeping-in-touch with my peer-group which is in their late 20's and early 30's. The whole thing about MySpace being primarily for the teen group is definitely overplayed and not really true anymore.
  • by buffoverflow (623685) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:58AM (#15919465)
    After reading the article, as well as the "Where do these #s come from" page, I still don't get the correlation. Why would the traffic patterns look in any way shape or form similar when comparing the Soc. Networking sites against, large search engine/portal sites. I don't have any experience in the monitoring of traffic, hits, visitors, etc. for either type of site; but even so, it still seems like apples & oranges to me.

    I would think that search engines would have many visitors daily (both unique & repeat), but the actual end-to-end traffic would be minimal & bursty in nature (individual searches). (In addition, one could say that things are really skewed, because if a search site does it's job well, the visitor will find what they need & be sent off site). With the SN sites, I would think people are logging in, digging through their various personal pages, as well as those who they're networking with. I would imagine that this would create a lot more traffic, but probably not from unique visitors. It's the same people who are logged in for long periods creating all the traffic.

    In addition, they showed no real comparisons between actual traffic flows, bandwidth usage, unique visitors, repeat visitors, etc.

    I agree that Social Networking is gonna continue to gain ground & will be (if it's not already) huge. But why is that being compared against the large scale search, data aggregation, and directed advertising companies.
    • The Compete numbers are measures of 'people', which in our world = unique visitors. I think the point they are making is that social networks and social media sites are attracting nearly as many people as well entrenched internet brands. For example... A similar analysis could say, "50M people visited a gas station last week to fill up their gas tank. Interestingly, Starbucks estimated it served 70M cups of coffee to 40 million people the same week. It seems Starbucks is nearly as inseperable from the
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:06AM (#15919549) Journal
    Okay, so I've read all 970(ish) bytes of the article text (that includes their summary) and it doesn't look like the text matches the graphics all that well. The top 10 "social networking" sites combined have less than half of the visitors as the top 2 search sites. They've barely doubled their aggregate visitors in the high-growth 30 months preceding. Heck, if you look at the graph from October '04 to March '06, Google alone matched the volume increase of the entire top-10 SNS.

    Sorry, but I find it hard to call this earth shattering.
  • Isn't "social network" when used in the context of MySpace actually indeed a "portal". I know an awful lot of people, and OLDER people at that (mid 20's to 30) that have MySpace.com as their browser's start page. The only really obvious item lacking on MySpace is "NEWS". And, that is probably a welcome escape for a lot of people...

    MySpace is their "social portal", but they jump to Google News for their "News Portal"...
  • ... all those spam blogs on Blogger networking with one another. They're very social about it, too.

    It seems to me that the survey doesn't boost the cause for social networking, but leads to the opposite conclusion - that even the 10 largest social networking sites added together don't add up to the traffic seen by Yahoo or Google. Count me underwhelmed.
  • Once the spammers take over the social networking sites, people will be back to being anonymous and detached from the sites they go to.
  • by mac.convert (944588) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:22AM (#15919701)
    Ok...Every time I read an article like this, and I see sites like Google and Yahoo referenced as "portals", I go a little crazy. I think of sites like, http://weed.com/ [weed.com] as a true portal. I know the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_portal [wikipedia.org] is a little broad, saying that they are, "sites on the World Wide Web that typically provide personalized capabilities to their visitors," but c'mon here...just because you can customize your Google or Yahoo homepage doesn't make it a Portal IMHO. A true portal to me is a domain squatter buying a name like, googles.com or ytahoo.com and putting a crapload of ads and "related" searches on it. I really think there needs to be a clear distinction between the two types of sites, instead of a branching term for any site that offfers custom content. Seriously...that would mean http://www.amazon.com/ [amazon.com] is a portal because I can customize my User Account screen.
    • Myspace is full of people trying to get into each other's "portals"
    • Ok...Every time I read an article like this, and I see sites like Google and Yahoo referenced as "portals", I go a little crazy. A true portal to me is a domain squatter buying a name like, googles.com or ytahoo.com and putting a crapload of ads and "related" searches on it.

      Why shouldn't you go a little crazy? After all, the rest of the world is behind the times in dropping the definition that's been in use for years now, and adopting yours as the standard!

      I think of sites like, http://we [weed.com]

  • If you think about it, Slashdot isn't all that much different from Myspace. Instead of a bunch of poorly written sites by attention whores trying to get people to look at them, you have a bunch of comments by karma whores trying to get people to mod them up. With Myspace you are trying to get people interested in your life so you feel special. On Slashdot, we assume everyone else is posting from his parent's basement too, so we try to get people interested in our ideas instead.

    Summarizing with a cat
  • by Devv (992734)
    Anyone that can't meet and talk and socialize with other people with other means than going to an online site should seriously throw the computer out of the window and start thinking of other methods. I mean if that's the case the computer is likely to have caused the lack of fantasy. I can understand services for instant messenging and sites focusing on special areas. I mean you might not be able to meet to many The Clash fans in you neighborhood. Then there's email for you too. If that's not enough consid
    • Town? What town? A big part of the social networking phenomenon is probably that there are no more real towns/physical places to go and socialize. Have you been to America lately?
      • by Devv (992734)
        Whoah, that sucks, but that can't be the case everywhere. Then it would be the result of no one being intrested in socializing in the real world which is to say the least, unthinkable. Or am I wrong? And no I haven't been to America. This gives me another reason just to try and ignore America and focus on other things that doesn't upset me as much. I think all this with online dating and such are just depressing. I can do some socializing online but to do a good lot of it or all of it is something I just wo
      • Town? What town? A big part of the social networking phenomenon is probably that there are no more real towns/physical places to go and socialize. Have you been to America lately?


        Yeah, they tore down all the bars, nightclubs, shopping malls, libraries, arcades, parks, etc., etc., etc. in America. All gone. Every last one.

        • Outside of the major cities and with the exception of libraries and shopping malls, yeah. Most of it is all gone. The only arcade in my area is in a noisy nasty mall 20 miles from where I live.

          To my knowledge ,the entire Tri-City Area has no nightclubs whatsoever. There are a few pubs left, but people visit them like restaurants rather than hanging around in them. Parks? Our town park barely exists, and only one of the three cities around here has any parks I know of.

          Now if you want to talk shopping ma
  • SNS are in the fashion business which is both to their advantage and disadvantage. Millions will flock to a currently fashionable site but equally an unfashionable site will die overnight as the users move elsewhere.
  • I'll visit a social network site (slashdot and digg) anyday over Reuters or CNN. If I can't get both sides of the picture, fuck it.
  • Both "portals" and "social networking" sites are for utter tools.

    Fuck, anyone who even uses the word "portal" anymore needs to have his ass kicked back to 1999.
    • Indeed. I think the biggest news from TFA is that people still use portal websites. Since the invention of the bookmark, I've seen no need to visit such a place.
  • Social networking sites are now close to eclipsing traffic to the giants -- Google and Yahoo

    Well, sure, that's sounds impressive, until you RTFA and see that the support for that is that visitors to the top 10 "social networking" sites combined (including Google offering Blogger.com) are approaching the US traffic of Google or Yahoo! individually.

    Of course, by the definition they use ("For this particular analysis we wanted to include sites where people create personal profiles with the opportunity to recei

  • I can't believe how people assume that the rise in traffic is related to their community and Web 2.0 and stuff like that.

    People use MSN Messenger. Lots of people. They see an orange star right beside a contact's name. They click the star and they see a "presentation card" window, that hilights that new content that has been added to myspace account, more specifically pictures.

    So you se that your female contact has new pictures posted and them usually include her female friends!

    No male adolescent user can re

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