Friendster, another Facebook casualty


By Arlene Burgos, abs-cbnNEWS.com – Social networking pioneer Friendster has advised its millions of users to take their files elsewhere, or face oblivion by May 31, when the site begins a reincarnation of itself as a non-Facebook-competing, “entertainment and fun” service.

TechCrunch, an IT-website, has reported that “Friendster has advised registered members to install a custom application that will export all their profile data as most of it will be deleted on May 31, 2011.”

The report, along with several others that discussed how Friendster planned to stay relevant in the age of Facebook domination, has sparked rumors of a winding down or at least a reinvention that will see the destruction of a social networking site that has connected people and made them friends.

But Friendster itself has explained to its users in its help page that the removal of all users’ information — blog, photo, profile — is to pave the way for the introduction of a new Friendster.

“We are introducing a new and improved Friendster in the coming weeks that will be focused on entertainment and fun. There will be new features that will leverage on your online activities and will enable you to connect with friends or engage new friends with similar interests.”

Friendster said the “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.”

To do this, Friendster will retain users’ friends lists, basic profile information, wallet and games.

Attempts via phone and email by abs-cbnnews.com to get more details about this from Friendster failed.

TechCrunch described the impending move “exactly like Myspace when they started feeling the Facebook heat for real.”

This observation comes against a backdrop of intense attrition for social networking sites.

“Tech industry analysts comScore say figures show MySpace lost more than 10 million unique users worldwide between January and February… Year on year the site has lost almost 50 million users, down from close to 110 million in February 2010,” BBC reported in March.

Yet, in a ZDNet Asia report just this month, Friendster CEO Ganesh Kumar Bangah may have hinted how his company views this kind of brand reinvention.

In that report, Bangah pitched for a unique value proposition in an attempt not to be sidelined by a global social graph dominated by Facebook.

“Friendster… will be re-launched as a social entertainment site that will leverage the global social graph using Facebook’s “Connect” feature… will not compete with but instead will complement Facebook,” ZDNet Asia quoted Bangah as saying.

A preview of what the site may have in mind may be the announcement last September that it is launching social media portals for music and social gaming fans in Asia.

Friendster claims to be a leading global online social network with 95 million members worldwide.

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