The Year in Social Media: 2008

    January 7, 2009
    Chris Crum

In what will likely be my final year-end list of 2008, I have compiled one more taking a look at the year in social media. This follows my articles looking at the year in online video and the year in online music. Like with those, I dug through our archives and picked out a number of highlights from the social media industry. It was a huge year for social media and not every single story is covered here, but you should find most of the meat and potatoes.


Facebook joined the Data Portability Group along with along with Plaxo and Google. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg appeared on 60 Minutes, he found more investors, and Facebook’s news feed would start treating apps differently.

MySpace got a little more Facebook-like with Friend updates and announced safety principles. Google was testing a new AdWords feature to target ads toward specific MySpace demographics.

Pownce left beta, Reddit was testing a personalized version of its service, and Automattic launched a way to create your own blog version of Twitter with Prologue.


Facebook partnered with the Wall Street Journal on "SeenThis?" and also made its account deletion process fully functional. MySpace opened the doors on its developer platform and began to talk about launching a free music service, which wouldn’t come to fruition until much later in the year.

Google and Twitter teamed up for the U.S. Presidential Primaries, while PR Newswire and CSSRWire teamed up on a social network. Pakistan ended its YouTube ban, and LinkedIn launched a new homepage and features.

Social Networks for Grownups


Facebook added some new privacy tools and began courting major record labels. LinkedIn launched company profiles, and Yahoo was welcomed into OpenSocial.

AOL bought Bebo, GyPSii brought a social networking service to the iPhone, Healia entered the Healthcare community mix, and YouTube Insight was launched as a way to track video analytics.


Facebook and Careerbuilder collaborated on ads, and Facebook launched its chat feature and faced a trademark challenge from USPTO. YouTube rolled out some new policy changes, and Project Playlist was sued by nine different record labels while we heard more rumblings about MySpace Music.


MySpace launched a data portability effort, and Facebook agreed to a child safety plan. Facebook also borrowed $100 million for growth purposes.

The Twitter Blacklist emerged, and Google began previewing Friend Connect. Reddit launched video show YourWeek and StumbleUpon made some video deals of its own. YouTube became the focus of some negative attention from Viacom again, but they also rolled out some new features.

We also learned about YouTomb, the place that tracks videos that have been pulled from YouTube. Meanwhile, the MySpace Suicide Mom was indicted.


WebProNews launched Twellow, a yellow pages-type directory for finding Twitterers with common interests, a service that would continue to be expanded upon throughout the year.

Facebook began letting users rate ads, partnered with Visa on a Business Network, opened mini-feed comments, and started requesting gender information. LinkedIn received $53 million in funding, and Google started testing a social iGoogle.



Facebook launched a redesign, and hooked up Facebook Connect with some sites. They also formed a search and ad deal with Microsoft, while Oodle formed a classifieds deal with MySpace, and LinkedIn formed a deal with over targeted articles and ads.

YouTube became available on TiVo and CNN took Twitter mainstream. Google launched Lively virtual rooms and Qik kicked off its public beta. Hugley popular app Scrabulous was removed from Facebook.

A bill came up that would deny kids access to social networks in libraries, while the SEC opened up to social media.


ConnectU was told to obey a Facebook settlement, while Facebook altered its app measurement system, and blocked a woman named Yoda from its site. Talk of a Facebook movie began to circulate with a West Wing writer rumored to be involved.

Friendster got a new CEO and $20 million in funding. Dell experimented with a press conference through Twitter. Katie Couric turned to the Digg crowd, and Disney looked to score with social media.

Yahoo closed down its social network Mash before many ever even knew what it was. Amazon started getting more social, and Twitter addressed the need to crack down on spam. Meanwhile, AMC got upset at people Tweeting under the names of characters from their show Madmen.

Mad Men on Twitter


MySpace launched MySpace Music and, and announced its display advertising platform MyAds. They also started allowing users to record video directly from MySpace. Facebook was found to be using Beacon again, and decided that it didn’t want people making new friends on the site.

Amazon launched its own social music site, and more Twitter services emerged. Bebo partnered with ESPN and in a separate story began altering user profiles.

Digg expanded internationally, MTV purchased a social project, and IBM got more social than ever. A Mac social network came to the iPhone, and it was found that Americans favor businesses with a social media presence.


Yahoo decided to try social media from a different angle and AOL launched its own social homepage. LinkedIn launched its applications platform and began a market survey business.

Facebook found an international home and got friendly with Friendster, while YouTube launched an ecommerce platform and an audio preview to fight comment idiocy. Digg dropped Digg Podcasts and Digg Spy, photobucket added a couple features, and Twitter dropped instant messaging.

Big Spy

Microsoft began to play with social search personalization, CBS introduced social viewing rooms, and MySpace redefined Karaoke amusement by adding video. GoDaddy got smart and social and Ning got in on OpenSocial.


We launched Twellow Pulse, a feature for Twellow that looks at the buzz in any given category. Shortly after that, we launched Twellow maps.

Twellow Maps

MySpace found a leader for MySpace Music, Facebook showed off its flexibility, and a Facebook phone surfaced. MySpace partnered with MTV, and YouTube made a deal with MGM. MySpace also launched a new profile editor as well as a PrimeTime application. Facebook revised its alcohol app policy.

LinkedIn improved its search engine, expanded into more languages, and integrated address books into profiles. Windows Live made a big social leap. Google of course launched SearchWIki.


This month saw the public launches of both Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect, not to mention MySpace’s Open platform. Facebook added the ability to embed and upload high quality videos, Delicious went mobile, and FriendFeed expanded into more languages.

Google Friend Connect

We launched TwellowHood in the U.S. and Canada, allowing users to find Twitterers in their own cities. We also made it easier to refine your Twellow searches.

Bebo opened Social Inbox, Six Apart launched Motion, and Facebook rolled out a navigation bar for use while viewing third-party sites. Talk of a Facebook movie has resurfaced, as well as that of a book.

That just about brings us up to speed in the world of social media. As always, please feel free to add more in the comments. If you feel like there was something I didn’t mention but should have, please indulge the rest of us.