Why do Japanese people call social media “SNS (Social networking service)”?

In Japanese, the term “SNS” is used to describe services such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, which are called “social media” in English. The term SNS is an abbreviation for “social networking service”.

Why do Japanese people use “SNS” instead of “social media” which is commonly used in English?

Some Japanese people misunderstand that “SNS” is Japanese English, but I don’t think so. The term “social networking site” or “social networking site” is also used in English, so SNS (Social networking services) must have been derived from those.

It is said that the first Social media was coined in the ‘90s. One of the most widely used social networking sites today is Facebook, which was founded in 2004.

It is not clear whether the term “Social Media” already existed when the first social networking sites were launched, or whether the term “Social networking” was first used.

However, when it was introduced to Japan, “social networking service” may have been easier to understand rather than “social media”.

For Japanese people who are not fluent in English, it is difficult to remember English as it is, although marketing terms are often imported directly from English and written in katakana. Most of them are too long to remember so they are often abbreviated by taking the first letter of the word.

If they had first introduced social media as “social media”, its shortening would have been “SM”, but “SM=sadism and masochism” was already commonly understood in Japanese. People must have thought it was not very appropriate as a marketing term and the term “social networking service (SNS)” would sound better.

For me, it’s a bit confusing and I’d like to see the term “ソーシャルメディア (Social Media)” become more common in Japanese, but it seems that what has been settled on as “SNS” cannot be easily converted.


Copied title and URL