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Social Networking Evaluation Chart

This checklist is designed to help review Social Networking Services (SNS). Although services develop continually, Childnet is committed to ensuring that the information provided is accurate at the time of publication (March 2008). We have drawn on publicly available information from service providers' websites (particularly each service's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy), as well as trying out each of the sites reviewed extensively. Additionally, we contacted the service providers included here and invited them to contribute to the project and comment on the chart entry for their service.

We believe there is great value in empowering educators to understand and be able to evaluate social networking services, so that they can identify which might best fit their needs in supporting their learners, or just better understand learners' social activity online.

Our guide ( will help you to identify and work through all the potential areas and issues you might need to review. We have tried to provide a comprehensive framework for reviewing all such services, so our aim here was not to produce an exhaustive account of all of the included services? features, but to provide enough detail to illustrate the kinds of differences there are. Service providers use different terms for tools and roles within their service. For the sake of clarity we have tried to use a common vocabulary. We use the term friend here to refer to mutually agreed contacts. We also use the terms user and member in distinct ways: user refers to someone who uses the site but may or may not have an account; member refers to people who have an account. Where we have included specific terms that individual providers use for their site functionality or tools, we have made these in italics.

General info
General Info Bebo Facebook Flickr MySpace Ning TalkingITGlobal YouTube

Bebo is a commercial social networking site, headquartered in California, USA.

Onsite activity is organised around member’s profiles, and content sites called channels. Channels include areas for music, books, video and member created groups. 

A news feed on users' Home pages updates them of their direct friends' activity i.e. when they add a friend to their friends' list, post to their blog, or join a group.

Facebook is a commercial social network site, whose head quarters are in California, USA. Initially restricted to US university students, it has opened its membership to any individual with an email address and, most recently, to businesses and groups.

Facebook privacy and permissions settings are extensive.

Activity onsite centres on network and group pages, members profile pages, (that displays their activity and content), and the personalised Facebook home page which consists of a news feed of their friends activity, updates and notifications.

Flickr is a commercial online photo-sharing site that has a range of social networking features that support the sharing of pictures. Owned by Yahoo!, it focuses on image uploads and related activity. Tagging is extensively used as a site organising feature. 

Although there is adult content, this is well moderated by the Flickr community and members can flag content as ‘restricted’ (i.e.: unsuitable for under 18s) and it is placed behind an adult wall and filtered by Safe Search.

Flickr applications are available in other services including Facebook and pre-loaded on some mobile phones. This means that it is easy to use the site to store images to display elsewhere.

MySpace is a commercial social network, owned by Fox Media. The site features different profile tools for musicians and bands, giving them the ability to upload a limited amount of songs to their sites.

MySpace headquarters are in California, USA.

Ning is a commercial company based California (USA), which offers members the ability to build their own public or private social network sites.

The ability to quickly tailor sites around particular topics has proven popular with educators despite concerns over adult-hosted Ning communities.

Communities are hosted on the Ning Network, with network membership required to join particular community sites. Ning also offers members a premium (paid) service that allows them to disassociate their network from the broader network of Ning Communities.

Ning offers members the platform source code so that they can customise their own site – but hosting must remain within the Ning network. (TIG) is a global non-governmental organization with charitable status run from Toronto, Canada. TIG is a social network aimed at youth who are interested in social, political and global issues.

TakingITGlobal also runs a number of offline engagement projects and partnerships that are strongly linked or supported by its online initiatives.

TIG supports young people’s social engagement and activism, and features a range of toolkits, including support for teachers. Along with community building and connecting tools, there are resources about a range of human rights, cultural and citizenship issues.

YouTube is the world's largest video sharing web site, and allows people around the world to upload, watch and share videos. 

YouTube content is quite diverse. It includes broadly popular music and entertainment content as well as political, sports, cultural, educational and other niche video. YouTube recently started a program to help non-profits and NGOs upload and share video about their organizations.

It does not allow adult content.

YouTube is a commercial subsidiary of Google, whose headquarters are in California, USA.


Membership types

Standard – free for all members.

Standard – free for all members.

Standard - free account. Limited uploads per month, photo stream views limited to last 200 pictures (although pictures published to blogs will continue to be viewable), 3 sets (ie folders of pictures), 10 group (ie pages where different members can post pictures)

Pro account : $24.95 USD per year:

ad free, unlimited uploads, storage, bandwidth, and photosets; high resolution image archiving; 60 group pools.

Standard – free for all members.

Standard – free for all members.

Premium features:

  • Run your own ads or run ad-free $19.95/month.
  • Remove Ning promotional links $7.95/month.
  • Use your own domain name $4.95/month.
  • Increase storage and bandwidth $9.95/month.

Standard – free for all members.

Standard – free for all members.

Age restrictions


Under 18s must be in education.

Standard account:
There are no age restrictions. All Flickr members require a Yahoo! account.

Pro account: 13+, requires permission of a parent or guardian authenticated by credit card.


No lower age limit for individual members. However, members age is not requested or tracked. Members “agree not to knowingly collect any information from, or develop any Networks that are targeted at, children under the age of 13” (Terms of Service).

No age restrictions.

16+, parental consent required/assumed for under 18's.

Profile privacy and moderation settings

All new profile pages are private by default and visible to friends only. Members can also connect with their college or school network, which means that their profile becomes visible to other site members within that network. Members can also opt in to make their profile public so that anyone can view it.

Members can chooses to review profile comments and profile white board drawings before they become visible on the site. Members can control who can see individual photo albums and choose whether to allow others to copy photos from individual photo albums. Contact details are only visible to selected direct friends.

Facebook has a high level of permissions, mainly controlled via member’s privacy settings. Elements within profile settings, search visibility, news feed items, poke (a kind of informal contact), messages and friend information can all be set to private or viewable only to friends. You can also limit profile information for specific people on your friends list, and for networks you belong to.

Privacy settings and agreements for third party applications (widgets set into profile pages) vary.

All adult profiles (ie profiles of those registering as over 18) are public by default.  All under 18 profiles are private by default and not searchable. Profiles contain limited, optional personal information fields.

Photographs can be assigned as public, private, or available to friends or family groups.

Members can select from a range of permissions for others to download and use their pictures, including licensing choices (a range of Creative Commons licences are available for members to apply to their photographs).

Profiles can be public or only accessible to friends. Members can use privacy settings to control who can see they are online, view birthday and profile information, and uploaded photographs.

Profiles in Ning contain skeleton information (including profile picture, user name,). These are used to allow members to sign in to the Ning network and to furnish members network profile page (‘my page’) that they have within each site they belong to. Members can set content and comment viewing to public, friends-only, or private.  Profile settings are made on a per community basis.  Network administrator can customize profile questions, set profile answers to public or private, and moderate photo and video submissions.

Profiles can be hidden – only viewable to signed in site members and not available to search engines, or public.

YouTube members can chose to not display their real name or personal information to other users.

YouTube members who upload video can manage the way those videos are presented to the community. For example, video ratings and comments can be turned off or moderated by the video creator.

Members toolkit

Members have a blog; can upload photos, post comments; create polls and forums; use on site mail (to communicate with direct friends privately); use Skype (an internet based phone service for making free calls between computers); create and select widgets; create mini-events, playlists and quizzes; upload videos.

There is a news feed on user’s home page which provides them with friends activity updates.

News feed – updates on wide range of friends activities, including changes made to profiles, status updates etc., ability to post or import items (web pages, embedded multimedia content), notice board, events calendar. However, the huge variety of third party applications makes it possible to import content and a massive range of tools. Free classified ads.

Members can organise their pictures in to sets, map the location of their pictures, create slideshows, tag (assign key words to their pictures), add notes and create favourites lists. Flickr has an internal mail service, like all of the other sites included here. You can also post pictures to external blogs and sites, either using the onsite tools or a third party application.

Calendar (can be made visible to friends), site mail, blog, address book, status and mood updates, classifieds service.

Within each network, members have a blog, and can upload video, music and photos. There is a  gadget directory of third party widgets; an RSS feed box and a comment wall.

TIG on site mail, web 2.0 profile fields which allows members to include links to other services they use, embed video from a range of services, and import content from Flickr, Twitter,, and

Members profile pages are called Channels. Members can choose to display: Posted or favorite videos, bulletins, subscriptions, message board, comments attached to each video. There is onsite messaging. There are video logs (collections of video play lists), and members can subscribe to favorites. In addition to member channels, there are categories of channel for comedians, directors, gurus (experts), musicians, and YouTube partners and sponsors.

File upload

Photos, video, third party applications.

Photos, video. Third party applications provide embedded media players or links to external media.

Photos. However you can also upload non-photographic images and screenshots. You are asked to label your content type appropriately.

Photos, video (MySpaceTV) and music.

Photos, video.

Photos, video, audio.


Groups Bebo Facebook Flickr MySpace Ning TalkingITGlobal YouTube
Group settings

Members can register a group, book or band. They can also create a fan group for a band.

Members can join and create open, closed (moderated membership) or secret (no public listing, invitation only) groups.

Additionally, There is an informal group feature – members can sort their friends into private groups, in order to message particular collections of friends for example.

Groups can be public, moderated, or private. Moderators can hide discussion and photos from non-members.
Moderators can remove or ban troublesome members. Moderators create posting rules, set the numbers of pictures members are allowed to post.

Photos and discussions can be pre or post moderated, or the facility can be disabled altogether.

Members can join and create public or private groups;

Comments can be pre or post moderated.

There is the facility to create groups within each network – membership can be open to anyone or by invitation only.

Members can create public or ‘hidden’ groups, which don’t appear in site or search listings.

Groups can be open to anyone, or membership can be moderated, or by invitation. Non-TIG members can also join groups.

Members can join and create public, private or member-moderated groups.

Group tools

Group space tools include photos, blog, polls, forums; white boards; widgets; video; quizzes; wall (notice board), songs, music albums comments; and profile skins.

Members can join and create open, closed (moderated membership) or secret (no public listing, invitation only) groups.

Additionally, There is an informal group feature – members can sort their friends into private groups, in order to message particular collections of friends for example.

Member messaging, assigning permissions or roles to members.

Group members can post pictures, bulletins or forum topics.

Threaded discussion forum.

Message board: Members can send messages to other members of the group; these may be moderated, or the facility can be disabled altogether.

A shared document store.

Group members can upload videos, post forum topics or replies.


There is a mobile version of the site (i.e. a customised version of the service to fit a mobile screen). Members can update their own Bebo page. They can upload photos, use the Bebo mail system, post and reply to comments, receive comment alerts, delete comments, report abuse, block members from contacting them, and view a top 5 mobile safety tips.

Data charges apply for viewing and uploading content.

There is a mobile version of the site available via an application. Members can also upload information to the site and there is a ‘between- members’ mobile messaging service. Data charges apply for viewing and uploading content.

There is a mobile version of the site (no download required). You can upload pictures, captions and tags. There are various third party partners providing a variety of upload services, including geotagging (adding location based information to pictures). All pictures uploaded via mobile are by default private.

Data charges apply for viewing and uploading content.

Members can opt to receive sms alerts for messages, friend requests or comments (15p per message). For UK members, MySpace Mobile with Vodafone Services are available to Vodafone customers but data charges apply for viewing and uploading content.

No custom mobile services.

Members can receive SMS notification of friend additions and site messages. Connection to the services are free but normal data charges apply.

You can upload video directly from your mobile phone. There is also a mobile version of the site located at

Upload and playback services incure mobile provider charges.

Other collaborative tools

Video, music, and author groups; Bebo Nation (a service where members pay to put pictures and links on a map). School and college networks. Members can label each other in pictures and videos.

Networks – members can join regional, educational or workplace networks. These host calendars/events, popular posted items, market places, groups, discussion boards and notice boards and allow members access to each other’s profile information. Members can also share (post to friends profiles) and annotate pages and items from the site.  Members can also tag other members in photographs and videos.

Pages – profiles for groups, organisations and companies.

Limited Guest Passes – this allows users without Flickr accounts to view photo sets labelled as ‘friends and family’.

Picture annotation – members can select sections of pictures and attach comments to these.

Public forums and chatrooms
Instant Messaging (MySpaceIM).

MySpace News (user submitter rss feeds, other members vote on stories).

Network forums, additional pages.
English, Chinese, Dutch, French, Portuguese, and Spanish languages supported.

Additional language translation feature.
Tagging and tag searching.

RSS feeds of discussions, photos, videos, music, and blog posts.

Site available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Turkish, Italian, Dutch, Swedish, and Romanian. Discussion forums in 5 languages.

Projects are collaborative spaces members can set up to help highlight and manage tasks, events or organizations. These have a basic blog, document and file store, pages, photo album, task lists.
Members can also contribute stories about themselves, their beliefs and activities to the site.

There are also additional ‘express yourself’ areas for writers, artists and podcasters.

Members can create video logs – collections of videos and comments on site.

Video can be ‘embedded’ into other websites, meaning you can play YouTube video outside of the site. The video uploader can set whether their videos are allowed to be embedded.


Onsite search powered by Yahoo!

Members’ profiles are available to external search engines.

Bebo does not allow search engines to check its site for details of under 16s.

Onsite search within people, pages, groups, events and applications.

Members who are over 18 can set their search listing to ‘everyone’, creating a search listing. The public search listing is a stub (primarily consisting of name and profile picture) available to search engines. This option is not available to under 18s. The full Facebook profiles themselves are not open to external search engines. Members can choose to make their profile stubs searchable to external search engines. Profiles of members who are not friends but who belong to the same network (for example, a college network or a geographical network) can view each others profiles (although members can remove this permission). People not on the same network only view stub information about people not on their friends list.

Members can restrict their pictures from appearing in some search engines (for example, in Flickr and Yahoo! search, but not Google search). Onsite search is by member, picture (tags or text), groups or locations. People do not need to be members or signed in to search.

Additionally, there are different search types: SafeSearch, SafeSearch Moderate, or SafeSearch Off. SafeSearch is on by default for non-signed in members; under-18s can choose SafeSearch or SafeSearch moderate; over 18s can switch it off. SafeSearch applies to browsing – under-18s will not see or be offered the option to view restricted content or groups.

By name, username, email, school name, or professional field. Member’s public profiles are available to external search engines.

Member search is primarily specific to particular communities: member profiles, photos, videos, and forum posts are searchable. Public profiles are available to external search.

Onsite search within Country/Region, Language, Interests, Industry, keyword.

Private member profiles are not available to public search.

Onsite search within video, channels, play lists, and groups.

Design & customisation
Design & customisation Bebo Facebook Flickr MySpace Ning TalkingITGlobal YouTube

Extensive choice of templates (profile skins) available on site and through third party sites. Members can also make their own (requires some knowledge of coding).



Can customise profile templates (requires some knowledge of coding); there are a huge range of third party templates and template tools available.

Selection of templates for pages and sites. Members can also create their own templates (requires  coding skills).

Selection of templates for Blogs.

Member channels are customizable with various colours, and the ability to upload their own page graphics.

Content and/or design customisable

Profile page modules can be selected, de-selected and ordered. There is an extensive selection of third party widgets.

Members can choose a maximum of 8 applications to be displayed on their profile page.

No template customisation – core content (profile picture, friends, etc) is static but modules and applications (widgets) can be reordered. Extensive selection of third party widgets.

There are limited options for organising page layout. Some HTML is allowed on the profile page (so for example members can add stickers or html widgets).

Members can add or embed a range of multi -media profile elements.

Members can include and edit HTML/DHtml or CSS, but not javascript. Members must not cover the Myspace Banner advertising.

Members can add some third party modules. Some HTML code is allowed in text boxes.

Those with coding skills are able to change site code to customise site look and functionality.

Members can include a selection of their content from external services, including pictures, video and blog posts.

Members can chose from a range of content modules to display on their channel.

Members can also upload their own graphics for their channel background.

Adverts on site



Standard account – yes.

Pro Account – no .


Yes, although currently no adverts registered to school sites: see

Premium: ad free: $19.95 per month.



No advertising on videos themselves except when there's a partnership with the content creators.

Security & access
Security & access Bebo Facebook Flickr MySpace Ning TalkingITGlobal YouTube
Content ownership

Remains with the member. Limited (functional) licence is given only to allow the display of materials on site.

Members maintain full ownership of any intellectual property rights associated with their content. In addition to functional permissions, members grant Facebook the right to “to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.”

Functional permissions for photographs and content. A range of licensing options are available to members on a per photograph basic – members can choose to reserve all rights or assign one of a range of Creative Commons licences.

Remains with the member. Right’s given to MySpace only extend to the display of uploaded content. MySpace cannot sell or distribute your content outside of the site.

Ning’s licensing terms are different for content posted to ‘private ‘ sites (sites that subscribe to it’s premium services) and ‘public’ sites – all other networks.
Since it allows members to modify it’s source code, it has licences covering any code submitted to the site. Ning content licences are similar to Creative Commons licences and are designed to facilitate the sharing and reuse of all publicly posted content by  Ning and all Ning members.

Licensing terms may also vary by community within Ning.

While ownership remains with members, they agree to grant TIG licence to “use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display” any publicly posted content. TIG also offers members the ability to publish writing and images using Creative Commons licences.

Remains with the member. Uploaded content may be displayed outside of the YouTube network if the video uploader decides to permit.

Adult content

Obscene or inappropriate material prohibited.

The Facebook code of conduct prohibits “obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit” content on site.

Flickr accounts are intended for members to share photos that them themselves have taken. Photographs that contain nudity that feature consenting adults is allowed, but the photos must be flagged as "moderate" or "restricted". Accounts that include only adult content ‘scraped’/copied from the web will be terminated.

“Moderate” or  “restricted” content cannot be viewed by members with SafeSearch switched on (SafeSearch cannot be switched off on accounts registered to under 18 year olds).

Prohibited by the terms – nudity, violence or links to adult web sites are prohibited. Profile pictures must not contain “nudity, or obscene, lewd, excessively violent, harassing, sexually explicit or otherwise objectionable subject matter”

Legal adult content is allowed within Ning communities; Adult groups require members to be signed in to the site and to click through a warning asking them to declare that they are over 18.

Members agree not to ”upload, post, email, transmit or otherwise make available any Content that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortious, pornographic, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libelous, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable (Terms of Service)."

Pornography, sexually explicit content, graphic or gratuitous violence and hate speech are prohibited by the Community Guidelines. Graphic and content that is inappropriate for minors is usually flagged by viewers and removed or age restricted as needed.

Managing inappropriate content

‘Report Abuse’ link located below the user’s profile photo (top left-hand corner of screen) on every Bebo profile page. Bebo members can also report specific media content (ie photos, videos, widgets) to the Bebo customer services team by clicking on a ‘Report Abuse’ link located below the content they wish to report. Bebo staff review all reports of abuse within 24 hours.

Members have the option to report suspicious online activity directly to the Police by clicking the 'Report Abuse' link and then clicking the 'File Police Report' button.

Facebook are the only SNS to offer a customer service agreement on inappropriate content “Where complaints about nudity or pornography, or harassment or unwelcome contact are made by independent email to [email protected], Facebook will acknowledge receipt of your complaint and begin addressing your complaint within 24 hours of receipt. Facebook will report back to you within 72 hours of receiving your email complaint to inform you of the steps Facebook has taken to address the complaint.”  (from the safety information)

Members who don’t flag their photos appropriately or breach the terms of service are subject to moderation or account termination by Flickr staff.

The "Flag this photo" link is on the photo page under “Additional Information”. If there is immediate cause for concern, you can report content and/or someone's behavior to Flickr staff.

Report inappropriate content button on every page.

Inappropriate content can be reported to  the site manager. Community managers can ban members, and moderate photo and video uploads.

Violations of the ToS can be reported to the site administration. Vulgar words in all 12 languages TIG operates in are not allowed to be used.  Received messages include delete, ignore (block) sender and report links.

Inappropriate videos are flagged by viewers and then reviewed by YouTube's operations team, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. YouTube informs us that “content which has been flagged is typically initially reviewed in less than an hour, although content where the infraction is less obvious may take longer to be removed, typically within 24-48 hours”.

Age specific functions

Members can contact other members with public profiles irrespective of age. However, members with public profiles can select minimum and maximum age of members who can contact them.

Over 18s are not allowed to solicit personal information from under 18s. Under 18s must have membership of a school or college.

Page settings can be set to be viewable by 13+, 18+ or 21+

You need to be over 18 to take safe search off & signed in to take off search limits.

You need to be signed in to select safe, moderate, or off. Under 18 user profiles are private by default and not searchable.

Site members agree not to solicit personal information from anyone under 18.

Members can block other members by age group. Profiles of site members under the age of 16 are set to private by default.

Members must declare they are over 18 in order to view adult content.

The profiles of members under 18 are private by default.

Once flagged, YouTube restricts a variety of content, including sexually suggestive material and non-gratuitous violence. To view restricted content a member must be signed in, be over 18 years of age, and click through a warning saying they would still like to see the content.

Safety information

Safety advice and educational materials:

Safe Social Networking Site:

Information page:

Community Guidelines:

Information page:


Under TIG’s theme section, there is an e-safety micro site:

Information page:

Viewing & moving content
Viewing & moving content Bebo Facebook Flickr MySpace Ning TalkingITGlobal YouTube
Getting external content in

Upload pictures and video on site. Only code from Bebo partners can be added to profile widgets. Bebo pre-selects available widgets. Third party applications are also available.

Members can post or import items (web pages, embedded multimedia content) manually.

Third party applications make it possible to import a wide variety of syndicated content.

Upload pictures via some mobiles and by email, or on the site. In addition to the default upload tool, there are a variety of more advanced of system-specific uploading tools available.

Currently MySpace disables members ability to use dynamic off-site links by disabling flash. Some third-party widgets supporting rss aggregation can be embedded in to the site code.

You can publish RSS feeds to your profile. “Gadgets” section consists of a range of pre-selected widgets members can add to their profiles.

You can import a range of content from a selection of web 2.0 services, and import your blog posts or other rss feed based content.

Upload video via the YouTube website, mobiles and digital camera/camcorder software.

Content out

Videos via embedded code. All videos contain the Bebo logo.

RSS feeds are available for three activities: status updates, notes and posted items, with two versions each – all your friends, or an individual (friend or yourself).

You can also create badges – Widgets for external sites which contain status updates, posts, photo uploads and other site activity information.

There are many Flicker applications that allow you to share your Flickr content in other SNS services, web pages and weblogs, even web browsers.  Additionally, Flickr offers extensive rss feeds through out the site – for members, groups, tags or combinations of these.

RSS feeds available for blogs. Third-party applications available for exporting comments.

RSS feeds for individual and group activities, blogs, forum posts and pages. Network manager can export members email addresses, and can backup or migrate member profile and network content.

Web feed for blog, RSS feeds of activity based on city or countries.

Downloading or copying of videos from the YouTube site is not permitted. You can embed videos in any site using the code provided, if the video uploader permits this feature. You can also create custom YouTube players that will deliver selections of selected videos.

Privacy policy

Terms of use

Communities are able to create their own, additional terms of use.

Community guidelines