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The Real Social Networks

Social media is suddenly becoming a lot more social. Since the Facebook revolution, online social networks have created ways for people to form virtual connections in digital communities, but the latest wave of social sites and apps aren’t just concerned with fostering online relationships—they’re bringing social networks to real life in all sorts of new ways.

Here’s a look at five social media ventures that are changing communities through web-based—and real-world—connections:

###The City

The City app combines the daily interactions of a digital network with the community of the local church. The site and app lets users discuss teachings, find service opportunities and meet new members.

###Airbnb

Instead of booking an expensive hotel room when you travel, Airbnb lets users find an unused room, apartment or house owned by a local. The site hosts a directory of spaces in cities around the world—and lets users post their rooms for rent—displaying feedback from previous travelers.

###Causes

Causes.com—founded in 2012 by Napster creators Sean Parker and Joe Green—lets its community easily support and promote their favorite organizations. Users can set up fundraising pages, awareness campaigns and “supporter networks” that empower online communities to partner with groups enacting change around the world.

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###Carma

Each year, Americans spend thousands of dollars on gas and hundreds of hours behind the wheel on their daily commutes to work, school and church—often driving alone. Carma wants to change that by bringing people together and saving on fuel consumption. The app helps users locate drivers in their neighborhoods with similar commutes, then allows them to connect to set up a plan to carpool. The technology also tracks each trip and transfers gas money reimbursement directly into the driver’s account.

###Pareup

The mission of PareUp is to bring “people and businesses together to save good food from the trash.” According to the founders of the site, 30 percent of all the food the in the U.S. is wasted, with retailers alone throwing more than $15 billion of produce in the garbage each year. PareUp lets restaurants and supermarkets post and sell (for a discounted price) unsold food before they throw it away, alerting app users about available food options.

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