Online social worlds can be broadly described as any virtual setting, created through digital technologies, in which individuals have social interactions in the virtual world with others synchronously, or in real time. A more narrow definition of online social worlds involves two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) digital representations of place, generated by computers, which multiple individuals can inhabit virtually, similar to living in the physical world. The broader definition encompasses individuals interacting online simultaneously using text messaging, e-mails, social networking sites, or other sharing websites, as well as 2D and 3D simulated virtual places. The more narrow definition involves individuals engaged in actions with other individuals in a multidimensional virtual world.

Social online worlds are distinct in several ways from virtual worlds of massive multiplayer online ...

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