By Laura Hibbard
The news of the social networking site Friendster ‘s complete removal of all user content may not bring many to tears, but it at least signals the end of an era. Despite the fact that its computer systems were never able to keep up with the explosive growth of its users, no one can deny that it was, as TechCrunch writer Mark Suster writes, a “trailblazer in this category, allowing people to create personal pages and connect to other people in a LinkedIn style, but without the “business” and with a little more interactivity.”
Although Friendster started the trend, it never stood a chance to Myspace’s rise to power. Now, on its help site, users are encouraged users to use the “Friendster Exporter” app to save all pictures and other media from profiles that will, come May 31st, be erased. Much like Myspace a few years ago, Friendster is not going away, rather reinventing itself to become a service more geared to “entertainment and fun.” However, the company’s press release makes it seem like it is simply trying to piggy-back off of the success of other networking sites.
“Our improved site is designed to create new profiles that allow you to connect differently with people and do things differently than other networking sites. Basically, the new site will complement your existing online presence in other social networking sites.”
While TechCrunch writer Robin Wauters maintains that Friendster’s demise is not a “casualty of Facebook’s steamroll,” I think it is a little ironic that, around the same time, Facebook has announced it’s new Groupon-like service, where users will buy deals for their community from Facebook through purchasing Facebook credits. So, while Friendster’s “reinvention” signals an end to an era, Facebook’s new deal suggests the birth of a new one — perhaps one where our social networking sites encompass our every online need.