The web’s capacity as a melting pot has, perhaps, been overstated. A recent study by Northwestern University suggests that college students’ race and ethnicity, as well as their parents’ level of education, are related to which social networking sites they choose. Though conventional wisdom paints the Internet as a democratic utopia, and online communities as places where users go to recreate their identities, the Northwestern study shows that users gravitate toward people with similar backgrounds and interests—in much the same way kids pick a table in their high school cafeteria. Facebook, for example, is favored by white students, and Hispanic students are more likely to use MySpace. This demographic splintering is most evident on social networking sites that actively court users from specific groups: NiggaSpace.com (young African Americans), Eons.com (people older than 50), and Xianz.com (Christians), among many others.
(Thanks, Mother Jones!)