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Five original alternatives to Facebook

Facebook is massive but are there more interesting alternatives to the social networking site?

Everyone is familiar with Facebook and Twitter, but here are five social networks you might not know about that offer a twist on the usual social networking options.

Classmates

Classmates.com has been established for well over a decade, having been set up in 1995 by Randy Conrads, but has recently escaped the attention of mainstream social network users. The site is intended to provide nostalgic content, as users are given the opportunity to seek out people that they attended school, college or university with. This site provides a great way to look up that classmate whose name you can't quite remember, as the software allows you to search by educational institution and the year you attended. Figures indicate that Classmates had 50 million subscribers in 2008, and 3.8 million premium subscribers.

Flixster

Flixster is a social networking site that is aimed at movie buffs and fanatics. The site enables people who are passionate about motion pictures to befriend, contact and chat with other movie fans, as well as providing a wealth of information about the huge database of films that has been uploaded to the site. Flixster and its sister site Rotten Tomatoes were acquired by Warner Brothers in May, 2011, giving the site a huge boost. The site proved very popular when it first came online, reaching a peak of over 8 million daily page views during January, 2008. Recent figures indicate the site has 3 million active users.

My Heritage

My Heritage is a site aimed at anyone interested in genealogy and family trees, and will appeal to anyone who's ever wanted to delve into their familial history. My Heritage allows users to create their own family websites; a typical feature of which are customisable family trees. The site also has resources available to enable users to search for their ancestors, in order to help build their family tree. The site has proven very popular, and the owners have continually improved the site's resources by the acquisition of various genealogy companies around the world. The site has over 64 million users, and over 1 billion online profiles.

Gaia Online

Gaia Online is very much a cult social networking site, aimed squarely as it is at fans of Japanese anime. The whole theme of the site is anime-based, but Gaia Online is an English language site that is aimed at English fans of the Japanese cartoon genre. The site is a very fun one for fans of anime to participate in, with opportunity for users to create their own customisable anime avatar to represent them in cyberspace. Gaia Online has proved very popular with anime fans, garnering over 26 million registered users and 7 million website visits per month, and the site won the Mashable Best User experience Award for 2010.

Meetup

Meetup is a social networking site that addresses one of the biggest criticisms of social networking in general - how does using such sites help the real world? Meetup was set up in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks as its founder Scott Heiferman was inspired by the way that people in New York co-operated in the aftermath of the tragic events. Meetup aims to facilitate offline meetings, by enabling users to join up with groups, which then get together in the real world and attempt to positively influence their local community and area. Meetup has 2,000 such groups, and 8 million members in over 100 countries.