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Photos and videos are new online 'social currency'

Photos and videos have become a type of online "social currency," with almost half of Internet users now posting original images to the Web, says a new report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

According to the report, 46 per cent of adult Internet users post photos and videos that they have created themselves online and 41 per cent curate content found elsewhere. 32 per cent of Internet users create and curate photos and videos online. The report is based on a phone survey of 1,005 adults taken early last month.

"The Internet has always been a platform for creators and curators," Pew Internet's Joanna Brenner, who co-authored the report, said in a statement. "Now, as social media services continue to grow and expand, the tools are more visual and social, and that seems to be attracting special audiences of early adopters."

Social media services like Pinterest and Instagram are, of course, making it easier for Internet users to share and curate photos online. Pinterest and Instagram are used by 12 per cent of online adults, according to the report. In terms of demographics, women are more likely than men to use Pinterest, while Instagram and social blogging service Tumblr attract equal numbers of men and women. Instagram attracts mostly young adults, with some 27 per cent of Internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 now using the photo-sharing app.

The report also shed light on the popularity of other social networks, with Facebook predictably dominating the scene. 66 per cent of online adults now use Facebook, while 20 per cent use LinkedIn, 16 per cent Twitter and 5 per cent Tumblr.