Find friends online

Online social-networking via Web sites is definitely here to stay, but downloadable software can help you hook up with friends online too.

Me.dium widget (Credit: CNET Networks)

There may be an excess of social-networking sites starting up these days, but the concept seems to be a permanent fixture on the Web landscape. Whether it's MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, LinkedIn, or your own network, people love connecting with old friends and finding new ones online.

Most social-networking occurs via Web-based software in your browser, but there are several cool downloadable tools that you can also use to connect and communicate with friends and strangers online.

IMVU

IMVU lets you chat with friends and members using a 3D avatar.

(Credit: IMVU)

Video chat is exploding right now, and Camfrog is the leading software on CNET Download.com, with Paltalk not far behind. If you're the sort who prefers to represent yourself with a 3D character, programs like Second Life and IMVU are excellent apps for meeting like-minded folks.

For those of us who have joined far too many social networks, a cool little app called 8hands can help maintain sanity. Still in alpha development, 8hands displays and manages all of your messages, photos, files, and contacts from MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, Blogger, Facebook, and more.

Facebook junkies may have a new friend in Fosimo, a tiny desktop tool that keeps track of all relevant Facebook activity without using a browser. And yesterday, I spent a good deal of the day with Me.dium, a browser add-on for Firefox and IE7 that lets you communicate with users on the same Web site or who have similar browsing patterns.

What do you use to find new and old friends online? Have online criminals scared you away from strangers on the Web? Tell me about it in the comments.

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