Before there was Facebook, before there was MySpace even, there was Friendster. Jonathan Abrams and Peter Chin launched their social network in 2002 — not that we knew what such things were at the time — and the revolution that followed has gone on to change the world in some fundamental ways. As the first player on the scene, the service was quickly improved upon by the aforementioned competitors; people continue to use it, but in many ways, Friendster has grown outdated.
And it’s about to change.
The site’s registered members have been getting e-mails (via TechCrunch) informing them that large portions of user profile data will be deleted from the site next month, on May 31. A custom application has been created, which users are urged to install so they can back up their content.
The May 31 D-day will see all user photos, blogs, comments and groups wiped away, though individual user accounts will remain, as will basic profile data, friends lists and games details. The Friendster Exporter app handle the backup, allowing users to download their profile information or export it to portals like Flickr.
The changes are being made in order to pave the way for the next generation of Friendster, which the company offers a brief description on: “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.”
Friendster is still quite popular, with more than 115 million registered users and the distinction of being included among the top 1,000 global websites. A large portion of the site’s traffic these days comes from Asia. Will any of the planned changes draw users in other parts of the world back? Time will tell. Facebook has carved out a pretty well-fortified niche for itself however; the thing about social networking is, once you’re set up, and all of your friends are set up, with profiles, why go to the trouble of establishing yourself elsewhere? The new Friendster plan, of complementing “your existing online presence in other social networking sites” is the right move. The “How?” is going to be what sells it or not in the end though.
The site re-launch is expected to go live in the coming weeks.