Orkut™ is a social networking site, similar to Facebook and Myspace, that is owned and operated by Google Inc. Like other social networking sites, its purpose is to provide an online community where users can maintain existing relationships by connecting with friends and family, and where they can also meet new friends and interact with others in various ways. Features include messaging, text chat, video chat, and the ability to personalize the look of the site using a wide range of colors and themes. Anyone 18 years and older can join. Orkut™ is available in 48 languages and is especially popular in Brazil and India.
Orkut™ was named after its creator, Orkut Büyükkökten, an employee of Google Inc. Specific features of the site include easy access to Google properties like Google Maps and GMail, and an area on each user profile called the scrapbook. In the scrapbook, users can post "scraps," which are messages that can include text, images, maps, video, and emoticons. There is a simplified version of the site specifically designed for mobile users, and what Google calls a "lighter" version for users with slow Internet connections.
Google launched Orkut™ in 2004, and it soon became one of the most visited sites in Brazil. In 2010, Orkut™ had more than 100 million users worldwide. Brazil had the most visitors with 48%, while 39.2% were from India, and 2.2% were from the United States. The site was previously popular in Iran, but the Iranian government now blocks access to Orkut™, claiming it is a threat to national security issues and Islamic values. Governments in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have also blocked access to the site.
Since the site's inception, it has dealt with some of the problems and security issues that commonly plague social networking sites, like electronic spam, trolling, cyber-stalking, and hate groups. There have also been some privacy concerns. One reason for concern has been that unlike some other social networking sites, users of Orkut™ could previously view any other user's profile information, regardless of whether that person was included in their network or not. Various privacy settings have been added to allow users to restrict access to profile information and other content. The site has also been the target of an Internet worm specifically designed to use Orkut™ to gain access to banking details, passwords and other personal information, but Google has implemented a fix for this security issue.