Ning, a site where anyone can create his or her very own social-networking site (see "Mini-MySpaces") and where people are doing so at a rate of "around 2,000 new networks a day, announced the end of its "red-light district" this week. It's a relatively small red-light district – Ning told me less than 1% of its more than 600,000 social networks – but apparently legal adult content was becoming a business problem. "We don’t want to be in the policing business and, unchecked, that's where this is heading," CEO Gina Bianchini wrote in Ning's blog. Ning has a reputation for strict compliance with federal law requiring ISPs to report illegal child-abuse imagery ("child porn"), so that was never allowed, but the legal stuff, Bianchini indicates, interestingly, was creating "a rise in volume of illegal adult social networks." The adult networks disappear by January 1, she said. This development is great news for all the other social-network creators – teachers, parents, artists, athletes, journalists, hobbyists, cancer survivors, alumni groups, government entities (e.g., the US State Department), and businesses. But if anyone's eyebrows are raised upon hearing that all these social site owners were on the same service as porn operators, it's important for you to know that people don't browse around Ning the way they might, possibly, a social networking site (and even then, most teen users just go to their own and their friends' profiles). Ning isn't a social site. It's a giant collection of social sites. Its member social networks are the destinations, not Ning itself. Here's coverage at CNET. A bit more interesting data on Ning as a global resource from Fast Company magazine last May: "About 40% of Ning's social networks originate outside the United States, and members from 176 countries have signed up, with the service already available in several languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and Dutch.
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