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In the sentence of

Facebook alone sports thousands of groups which allow members with similar interests to meet and network—purportedly the actual point of having a social networking site.

  1. What is the meaning of a verb "sports"? I cannot find any suitable explanation in my dictionary.

  2. What does "the actual point" mean in this sentence?

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from Merriam-Webster:

transitive verb

1 : to display or wear usually ostentatiously : BOAST

// sporting expensive new shoes

So basically, Facebook shows off the fact that it has thousands of groups.

"The actual point" means "The real purpose" - the author believes that groups like the ones you find on Facebook are purportedly (supposedly/allegedly) the real thing that makes a social networking site useful. This is probably because, as the author says, groups allow people with similar interests to find each other. The ability to network with people through social media is the very essence of a "social network."

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1) In this context, as a verb, to “sport” something means to own or possess it and to display it proudly. For example:

The soldier’s wound was deep and painful, but he sported the resulting scar with pride.

I couldn’t find an explanation as to the origins of that meaning if the word, but an internet search of dictionaries and thesauruses might give you more info.

2) The effect of saying “the actual point” instead of just “the point” would often be to imply tacitly (i.e. without just saying it directly) that some people might be trying to convince the reader that there is an alternative point. Hmm - that’s a bit convoluted; let me try an example. So

Some people think that the point of democracy is to ensure that the government runs the country the way the people wants. But in practice that’s not really the case. Instead, the actual point of democracy is simply to give the people the opportunity, every few years, to fire the government.

That said, I found what I think is the source of your quote (Microsoft’s “Own Your Space”, right?) and there the “actual” seems a wee bit unnecessary.

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