The History of Online Social Media

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Over the last ten to 15 years, online social media turned into a global mass phenomenon. However, there basic idea is anything but new. Right from the start, early computer networks were used for social interaction. Seen in that way, the history of social media starts long before Web 2.0. Starting from this presumption, the chapter traces the emergence of social media from the 70s until today describing different phases in this development. The first phase covers the early years when online interaction was mainly realized via bulletin boards systems, Usenet, mailing lists or internet relay chat which can be seen as precursors of modern social media. The second phase is characterised by the rise of Web 2.0 applications such as wikis, blogs, social bookmarking tools or podcasts resulting from technological innovations at the end of the 90s. The third phase deals with the rise of new types of social media such as social networking sites, microblogging or multimedia platforms in the mid-2000s – a time that is characterized by internationalization, commercialization and a diversification of services. Finally, the fourth period refers to the present and the near future when mobile applications and devices allows us to use social media anytime and anywhere.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe SAGE Handbook of Web History
EditorsNiels Brügger, Ian Milligan
Place of PublicationLondon, Thousand Oaks, New Dehli, Singapore
PublisherSage Publications
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • history of social media
  • development of social media
  • emergence of social media
  • future of social media
  • definition of social media
  • precursors of social media
  • Web 2.0
  • social networking
  • mobile social media
  • social media apps


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