Facebook, Friendster Signal Changing Tide

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The world of social networking is changing, but don’t worry, it’s not permanent. It’s more of a tide than anything that reaches and recedes from all things. MySpace is changing, Facebook is catching, and Friendster is resurrected.

Facebook, Friendster Signal Changing Tide
Facebook, Friendster Signal Changing Tide

Like Internet dating in its infancy, social networks have graduated from something for the kids (with dating, it was the geeks) to a normalized part of society. Critics had similar concerns about Rock N Roll in its day, and short skirts, and tie-dye, and jazz and dancing.

Most likely there was a time when daily hygiene was tantamount to snobbery. Things change with acceptance. MySpace exchanged one stigma for another, immediately branded a site for teenyboppers, and then the fishing hole to catch a predator.

Despite that, and despite the concern that such a youthful audience replete with perverts would fizzle out over time, the site has continued to grow, even to the point that the majority of the 109.5 million visitors to MySpace users are now over 35, both according to comScore.

Of course, you know what happens when the grownups raid your secret hangout, right? The He-Man Womun-Haterz Club can’t thrive in a cloud of perfume, the mice can’t play with the cat around…choose whichever cliché you wish.

You might note also though that Rupert Murdoch is rumored to be looking for a way out, if he can exchange MySpace for a nice chunk of Yahoo.    

Anyone not signing up for MySpace these days (really, is there anybody?) are defecting to Facebook, Friendster, and Bebo. It’s not really defecting as much as it is double dipping, though. Over half of social network users maintain multiple profiles, flitting from network to network the way they would rooms at a party.

In the past six months, after Facebook opened up to non-collegiates and developers, the site has more than doubled in number of unique visitors, growing from 23 million users in December 2006 to 47 million in May 2007. During the same period, Bebo jumped from just under 11 million visitors to 17 million.

But the most explosive recent growth has been, surprisingly, from Friendster, a company that just so happens was awarded a US patent on social networking, signifying how long they’ve been in this game. The site has steadily grown since December from 18.7 million visitors to 24.8 million.

While that’s less than the others in terms of visitors, the site, and VentureBeat, point to the page views, spiking by 40 percent just last month to 9 billion. The company attributes the sudden spike to "fixing" the technology that stymied its growth in 2004, just as the meteoric rise of MySpace was to occur.

Friendster’s graph server, which made it impossible to manage four quadrillion factors (we’re assuming Venture Beat is using not using that number as hyperbole), has been revamped to more easily show how users are linked to their friends, and by what degree of separation, similar to a feature used on LinkedIn. But the main result of this revamp is that users are better able to track what’s going on with their friends, thus increasing page views per user.

While that may seem like cheating, it’s growth nonetheless, and of the others in the top seven networks – HI5, Tagged, and Piczo – Friendster is the only one not stagnant or declining over the past half-year. 

So what happens next? Who knows for sure? It seems Murdoch is thinking of jumping ship, perhaps just for a better opportunity, or it could be he detects the changing tide. Maybe Facebook is catching up too fast. Maybe Friendster is poised to sue the whole lot of them.

Or maybe it’s just the natural, social flux of things.

Facebook, Friendster Signal Changing Tide
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  • Jerry

    I’ve been using Squidoo myself. It’s not much different than MySpace or Facebook and it’s real easy to use.

  • Scott Adie

    Social Networking is here to stay because it offers opportunities that otherwise don’t exist. I am a member of several sites currently. But, it has its limits. Kind of like a high end printer driver or nice software like Photoshop. Initially, it meets a certain need or goal you may have but ultimately, the desire is to dig deeper to plumb the depths of the product. Social Networking finally leads to the desire to meet and spend time in-person with the interesting people you contact through it. It would be interesting perhaps to plan a vacation to meet some of the contacts made on say myspace. The pitfalls and benefits both offer some interesting possibilities!

  • Shankar AVSB

    Jason, your analysis on social networking sites is interesting. I wanted to add three points:
    (a) YouTube should be covered in the same category with MySpace, because it’s level of interaction and geographical diversity of audience is high.
    (b) Business/professional networking sites are growing too. For example, LinkedIn.com has almost become standard for a professional network now.
    (c) Then you have a hybrid like MyOrbit.tv, which combines (a) and (b), and enables professional networking to lead on to real-life business.

  • Thomas Hillard

    It is always interesting to see the path that the goliaths of social networking are taking but whats really going on here? We believe social networking is more of a new standard medium for interfacing users and content on a website.
    We’ve used it on our site – http://www.ekaweeka.com to allow small businesses to find each other, for their customers to find the businesses, and for everyone to benefit from the extra visibility found in the this medium.

  • Clint Dixon


    I remember this same talk about another cool new site


    Still around nothings changed but the names and the players

    • Jason Lee Miller

      Except AOL/Time Warner’s something like $300 billion poorer. :)

  • annie

    Facebook is not welcoming at all – you are encouraged to add friends to your list.

    But everyone answers: Do I know you? in the subject of the email.

    You answer that you were cruising around looking for people of simular interests and a friendly face – and they never email you back.

    Or some contact you by email – then you email back to say hello and they report you as a spammer!!! What’s that all about???

    I am deleting my account — no one says anything of interest anyway. Just “Hope your having a great day”

    Myspace is being updated and is frustrating with so many things not working – but the people are friendly and give great comments.


  • Moses Wilson


  • PaulL

    Contrary to your article Hi5 is not declining, it’s growing larger and larger. Blame comScores flawed methodology, since the Hi5 growth is occurring mostly overseas…

    • no one

      im on hi5 i’m going change that soon by asking all my friends to join when school starts again.I dont want to talk to foreign people I just want to talk to my friends.

  • no one

    okay adults are taking over our place and everyone who just wants to chat with their friends cant cause their moms and dads are on the site now me and my friends are flocking to other social hangout places. its kinda sad but sinse I dont want to be on myspace with all the sexaul predators and stuff I really don’t mind.

  • Shawn

    Why is Friendster blaming their failure in 2005 on technology…how did mySpace become so successful using Coldfusion….come on!!!!

    It was mgmt, not technology.

  • http://famillion.com Iphtach

    New social network focused on family & friends

  • rey

    i like facebook, inspired me to look this world with better way. 

  • http://www.ilovemoneystore.com Guest

    I use both. I made money from squidoo. The problem is the new policy. I got blocked twice in squidoo.
    I just start in friendster, but my account suspended. I don’t know why.

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