Internet social media is the latest in a long list of tools humans use to talk with each other without being in the same physical space. In ancient times smoke signals and talking drums provided a means to communicate simple concepts across long distances. Then along came the mail system, with early postal workers riding horses from town to town to carry letters over the long miles, while ships carried postcards across the seas to help people stay in touch. When airplanes came into use airmail made the process go even faster. We also had telegrams followed by telephones, a breakthrough that allowed people to speak over long distances.

Next came computers and the internet became a new way to stay in touch using email and direct messaging, but it still didn’t satisfy the human desire for communication. That’s when it became All About Social media, where people could share videos and photos, write messages, and even speak to each other on platforms designed to feel like a community

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, social media can be defined as “forms of electronic communication (like websites for social networking and microblogging) by which users create online communities to share some details, ideas, personal messages, and other content (for example videos).” 

To say that this caught on would be the understatement of the century! An estimated five billion people around the world are active on social media today! In less than one generation, social media has evolved from a direct electronic information exchange to a virtual social gathering place, to a retail platform, to one of the 21st-century’s biggest marketing tools! All that, and people still use it to share pictures of their pets and catch up with old friends! Let’s take a closer look at this global phenomenon and the platforms that are making it all happen! The following is a list of the most popular social media networks active in the year 2024:

Facebook –  Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook in the year 2004 as a means to keep fellow students connected. It now boasts over 2 billion users and is a titan in the world of social media. Although it has faced some controversy regarding the commercial use of user’s personal information, Facebook remains the go-to social media site for most people and shows no signs of stopping.

Twitter – The original Twitter was founded by  Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, and Biz Stone in the year 2006 as a microblogging site. By 2020 the site featured over 200 million users tweeting around 500 million tweets a day. In 2023 billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk purchased the site, renamed it “X” for no logical reason, and loosened its posting guidelines so that harassment and racism were allowed. Since then the number of users has dropped sharply, and X’s future is uncertain.

Reddit – Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian launched Reddit in the year 2005 to be used as a news and information-sharing platform. It evolved into a place where over 400 million users could discuss nearly any topic, making the site a kind of pop culture encyclopedia. Unfortunately, Reddit has also lost users thanks to a managerial decision to limit the power of respected moderators, causing them to shut down many popular topics in protest. Reddit continues on, but for how long remains to be seen.

Instagram – Stanford graduate Kevin Systrom founded Instagram in the year 2010 as a site where people could share photos, containing a variety of useful photo manipulation tools. It was a huge hit and soon became the hangout of every rising star, all eager to share their best shots with their legions of followers. The site was bought by Facebook in 2012 and its popularity continued to grow, with more than one billion users worldwide!

TikTok – Chinese tech company ByteDance founded TikTok in the year 2016 as a platform for kids to show off their funky dance moves in short videos. It hasn’t changed much since its inception and now hosts nearly 900 million users worldwide, some of whom can dance.

Even the Australian Government is in on the social media fun, maintaining a presence on all the major sites, click here for a list! Social media is an amazing way for people to stay in touch, shop, view entertainment, and so much more, it’s making the world a more connected place.