Turning our lives into single-line updates is now the acceptable social drug which the big three continue to push into our digital veins.
Not every social network, however, has been as successful as the big players and, like sand through an hourglass, these are the defunct social networks of our lives.
This site began in 2007 as a social portal for French and Belgium students but opened its doors internationally after adding support for most European languages, eventually growing to more than a million users. Bahu had some nifty ideas, such as a media bar which ran at the bottom of the site. It has since been reinvented as www.sofamous.com and offers many of the same services which Bahu used to support, such as verified user profile pictures for membership approval.
In 2006, two brothers created a start-up social experiment which let users share media, write blogs and earn “Zoops” — online currency worth US$00.01 which could be exchanged between users, or cashed out using a linked debit card. Two years later, staff members were laid-off in droves as the co-founders of Capazoo continued to battle each other amidst legal issues. The site was eventually shut down with the company having gone bankrupt.
Taking on professional websites such as LinkedIn will always be an uphill battle. eConozco, a social network released in 2003 for Spanish-speaking business professionals did not try to fight the establishment and was even integrated into Xing (seen as the European LinkedIn) back in 2007. All user accounts were transferred to Xing and the eConozco model continues to thrive.
Controversial websites are all well and good and the viral nature of these creations assists in their rapid spread across the web. When a website target specific users in a malicious manner, though, as was the case with FitFinder, such controversy can result in a site closure. FitFinder let users track and post pictures of good-looking people, these images were then posted to a “FitFeed”. The site lasted less than a month after “increasing pressure from universities” to take it down and is now being relaunched as a social network called “Floxx“. The new incarnation of the site is open to all, not only registered students.
This was a unique effort: A social network aggregator which had a desktop client and widgets for browsers. It integrated with many other social networks, was open source and is now as dead as disco. Visiting the site redirects you to Redhat.com, the creators of Mugshot’s source code.
The birth of the social network was possibly fuelled by the inception of PlanetAll, a website which let academics and working professionals connect. It was seen as such a success that Amazon.com purchased PlanetAll outright and integrated most of its services into its “Purchases Circles” — a feature which let registered Amazon users interact and share content. Thanks to Amazons purchase of PlanetAll, they were eventually awarded the patent for social networking systems.
This website was known as “Twitter on steroids” thanks to its powerful ability to track multiple conversations at once. It lasted for a year before being shut down due to lack of user growth and failure to compete against Twitter. Kevin Rose, one of the founders of Digg, was instrumental in bringing Pownce from concept to reality.
According to its homepage, Sixdegrees was”The Web’s Hottest New Social Network“. The site was based on the six-degrees of separation model and new users could only join if they were referred by others. At the height of its success, Sixdegrees had a million registered users but for now it has been temporarily shut down as the site “restructures”.
Soundpedia CEO Jacob Goldstein created this innovative concept in 2007. Users created custom radio stations, browsed friend’s playlists and could stream their stations to any web-enabled device. Company restructuring ended Soundpedia’s reign before it had a chance to succeed. Since 2009, the URL has led to a domain placeholder.
What failed globally remains a success in Vietnam. This is the story of Yahoo! 360°, a social network which was replaced with an updated version of Yahoo profiles. Yahoo! 360° began in 2005 and by 2008 had run out of steam. The final nail in the coffin was hammered in when Yahoo decided to end support for all Yahoo! 360° bug fixes. The service lives on in Vietnam and in certain social experiments such as Yahoo! Pulse.
Other social media blunders from Yahoo! includes Kickstart and Mash. Kickstart ran for under a year and was aimed to be the LinkedIn for students – an avalanche of site errors helped to drive a stake through its heart. Mash was created in the heart of the storm. After Yahoo failed to purchase Facebook for a billion dollars, Mash tried to step in as a social networking aggregator but ultimately could not compete in an already congested market.
This final entry could be filed under “Shame, at least they tried.” The fall of Friendster from social media innovator to its current social gaming platform status is well-documented. They began in 2002 and managed to harness an incredible 115-million users before the Facebook giant shut its social networking ambitions down for good. Friendster was not without its innovations and actually allowed you to see how many people had viewed your profile, a feature lacking on Facebook. By 2009, the website had all but given up its fight against Facebook and by May of this year, its ten million active users have to now contend with the site removing their data.