About 4.26 billion people today are using social media. This means more than half of the total world population or more than two-thirds of internet users around the globe can be found on social media platforms now and then. The average daily social media usage is 2 hours and 27 minutes.
According to a recent case study, an average person will spend about 5 years and 4 months of their life — more than the time they will spend eating and drinking on social media. In other words, 7.3% of an average person’s life will be spent on social media.
This is a significant development because Social media started to evolve all over the world around the 1990s and there was no looking back. Six Degrees, Friendster and MySpace were some of the first social media sites to reach over one million active users – every month around 2004.
Soon Twitter, Facebook, WeChat, ShareChat, Instagram, QZone, Weibo, VK, Tumblr, Baidu Tieba, LinkedIn, YouTube, Quora, Telegram, WhatsApp, QQ, Signal, LINE, Snapchat, Pinterest, Viber, Reddit, Discord, TikTok, Microsoft Teams, and many other social media emerged out of nowhere over the horizon.
Many of the social media sites changed the way people formed bonds to connect and communicate with each other – throughout the world.
However, this is where the tragedy begins as many of these social media sites either failed to withstand the completion or live up to the expectations of their users. Here are 12 social media platforms that closed down:
Launched in 1995, Classmates.com was one of the first social media platforms focused on reconnecting people with their former classmates from high school, college, and other educational institutions.
The primary purpose of Classmates.com is to help individuals find and reconnect with their old classmates and friends. Users could create profiles, search for people they knew, and send messages to reconnect and catch up with each other. The platform also offered features like classmate directories, yearbook collections, and reunion planning tools to facilitate connections and nostalgia.
In 2007 it had about 50 million users when it filed to go public but withdrew the IPO citing “market conditions.”
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While Classmates.com still exists even today, its popularity has diminished due to the rise of other social media platforms like Facebook, and LinkedIn, which offer similar features and have a broader user base, making it easier for people to connect with their classmates and friends.
Launched in 1994, Geocities was a popular web hosting service. It allowed users to create and publish their websites. It was one of the pioneers in the early days of the World Wide Web. Geocities provided free web hosting and website building tools that allowed users to create their web pages without requiring advanced technical skills. Users could customize their web pages using a variety of pre-designed templates, graphics, and HTML editing tools. This gave rise to millions of personal websites across various categories, including personal blogs, fan sites, and hobby pages.
Geocities users could choose a neighbourhood that reflected the theme or topic of their website. Each neighbourhood had its own web address and community of users.
The platform gained immense popularity during the late 1990s, as it allowed individuals to express themselves and share their interests with a global audience.
However, as the web hosting industry evolved and more advanced website-building platforms emerged, Geocities gradually lost its popularity and over time, user interest shifted to more modern and feature-rich platforms like WordPress, Blogger, and other social media sites.
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Yahoo! acquired Geocities for about $3 billion in 1999 at the height of the dot-com boom but shut it down a decade later in October 2009. By the end of 2009, all Geocities websites were taken down. Today, Geocities is remembered as an iconic platform that played a significant role in the personal website revolution.
One of the first social networking platforms Six Degrees founded in 1997 by Andrew Weinreich an American entrepreneur and a pioneer in social networking. It was based on the concept, of “six degrees of separation” which suggests that any two individuals on Earth can be connected through a chain of acquaintances with no more than six intermediate connections.
Six Degrees allowed users to create profiles, make friends, and send messages to each other. It provided a platform for people to connect with others who shared similar interests, forming online communities and fostering virtual relationships. Users could also browse through profiles and make new connections based on common interests or shared acquaintances.
Launched at a time when the concept of online social networking was relatively new Six Degrees had over 3.5 million registered users. However, Six Degrees faced challenges as the concept of social networking was still in its early stages, and not many people were using the internet or familiar with the idea of connecting with others online. Six Degrees also struggled to generate revenue through advertising because of its limited user base.
Six Degrees eventually shut down in 2001. However, despite its closure, Six Degrees paved the path for future social networking platforms and influenced the development of online communities.
There was a time in the early 2000s when MySpace was one of the most popular social networking websites that was. It was one of the most visited websites in the United States. MySpace users could create their profiles; add friends, and share photos, videos, and music. MySpace users could customize the look and feel of their profile page with HTML and CSS coding and creatively create a unique profile. MySpace was particularly popular among musicians and bands who could share their music and connect with fans. Many artists used MySpace as a promotional tool.
MySpace’s popularity peaked in the mid-2000s when it became one of the most visited websites in the world with millions of active users. It was particularly popular among youngsters who enjoyed the ability to customize their profiles and connect with friends. MySpace became a significant player in social networking, allowing users to share their interests, preferences, and personal updates with their friends.
MySpace’s popularity started to decline in the late 2000s with the rise of social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter. MySpace struggled to keep up with the competition and underwent several redesigns and changes in ownership to revive its user base. Today it is no longer a major player in the social networking landscape and has lost much of its popularity. From being, the most visited website in the world in 2006 MySpace lost 10 million unique users in just one month in 2011.
Launched by Jonathan Abrams a pioneer in the field of social networking in 2002, Friendster was one of the earliest social networking platforms that became extremely popular in the early 2000s. The platform gained a significant user base, particularly in Southeast Asia, and was considered a major competitor to other social networking platforms like MySpace.
Friendster allowed users to create profiles, connect with friends, and share content such as photos and messages. Friendster played a crucial role in popularizing the concept of connecting with friends and sharing personal updates online.
However, Friendster faced technical challenges and struggled to handle the rapidly growing user base. As a result, the platform experienced frequent downtime and slow performance, which led to frustration among users. Additionally, Friendster’s management decisions and changes in the site’s design and functionality also contributed to its decline in popularity.
Despite its initial success, Friendster ultimately lost ground to other emerging social networking platforms like Facebook, which offered a more streamlined and user-friendly experience. As a result, many users migrated to the newer platforms.
Friendster tried to rebrand itself as a social gaming platform targeting Asian markets and shifted its focus away from social networking. It transformed into a social entertainment platform focused on gaming and digital content distribution but these measures didn’t yield the desired result.
Finally, on June 14, 2015, Friendster deleted all user data and officially shut down its social networking services.
Founded by Dom Hofmann, Rus Yusupov, and Colin Kroll in June 2012, Vine allowed users to create and share short six-second video clips. The service gained popularity for its humorous, and creative content.
Vine’s unique format, simplicity and ease of use made it a hit among users, particularly youngsters. Overnight many people became popular internet celebrities’ with a large fan following by using the platform by showcasing their talent and creativity.
Vine’s success caught the attention of Twitter in October 2012, which acquired Vine. Twitter’s involvement helped Vine even more popular. It became one of the most popular video-sharing platforms of its time. It dominated the social media spectrum from 2013 to 2016 and became one of the most popular video-sharing platforms.
However, in late 2016, Twitter announced that it would discontinue the Vine mobile app because of competition from other video-sharing platforms.
The app officially shut down in January 2017. However, despite its closure, Vine continues to make its presence felt in the social media landscape. Today, similar platforms like TikTok allow users to create and share short-form videos.
Orkut was a popular social networking platform in the early 2000s. At its peak, Orkut had 300 million users around the world. Named after Orkut Büyükkökten, a Turkish software engineer, Orkut was launched in January 2004. It was initially only for users in the United States, but soon expanded to other countries worldwide and allowed users to create profiles, connect with friends; join communities, and share photos, and videos. Orkut allowed users to leave messages for each other, and get testimonials from friends. It also had privacy settings that allowed users to control the visibility of their profile and content.
Orkut’s primary motive was to help users meet new and old friends and maintain existing relationships. In its heydays, Orkut managed to accumulate 34 million users in Brazil and 19 million in India. This prompted Google from acquiring Orkut in 2004. Orkut became the most popular social networking site until other platforms like Facebook and Twitter, began to erode its user base.
Eventually, Orkut decided to shut down in September 2014.
Bebo was a social networking platform launched by a husband-and-wife team of Michael and Xochi Birch in 2005 to allow users to connect with people worldwide and share content online. It was named after the acronym for “blog early, blog often”. Bebo soon gained popularity, particularly among youth and became the number one visited social networking site in the UK, overtaking MySpace and Facebook. According to the statistics, Bebo had a total of 10.7m unique users, ahead of MySpace, which had 10.1m and Facebook 7.6m. Bebo also ranked as the second most engaging website in the UK just behind Google, which received 8.8b.
Bebo users could create personal profiles, add friends, send messages, comment, share photos, blog, and play games. Bebo also had a unique feature called “Bebo Skins” that allowed users to customize the appearance of their profiles.
In its prime, Bebo became so popular that almost two-thirds of secondary school children in New Zealand had a Bebo page in 2007. This created a panic among schools who blocked the website to stop students from logging in.
In 2008, Bebo was acquired by AOL for $850 million, but its popularity declined in the following years due to the rise of other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. In 2010, AOL sold Bebo to a private equity firm, and the website underwent several changes in ownership and management.
Eventually, Bebo faced financial difficulties and was shut down in 2013.
Google+ (Google Plus) was a social networking platform launched by Google in June 2011 to provide users with a more personalized and interest-based social networking experience.
Google+ users could categorize their connections into different groups and share specific content with people having common interests. It also had a news feed called “Stream” that displayed updates from friends and pages. Other features included Hangouts for video chats, Communities for discussion groups, and Events for organizing and inviting people to events.
However, despite the initial success Google+ failed to take off and could not compete with Facebook and Twitter despite Google’s efforts to promote it. Many users found it difficult to migrate from existing networks, and its user base remained relatively small.
Finally, Google announced its shutdown in October 2018. The shutdown process was completed by April 2019.
Hi5 was a gaming-focused social network founded by Ramu Yalamanchi in 2003. Hi5 turned profitable within its first year and became popular in Mexico, Central America, and South America. Hi5 become the 2nd largest social networking site after Myspace by 2007.
In 2008, hi5 was the third most popular as well as the fastest-growing social networking service just behind Facebook and MySpace.
It allowed its users to connect with friends, create profiles, and send messages to each other. It offered features such as photo sharing, blogging, and status updates. Hi5 also had a gaming component where users could play social games and compete with their friends.
However, Hi5’s popularity declined over time due to the rise of other social media platforms. Many users of Hi5 migrated to Facebook and Twitter and Hi5’s user base dwindled as a result.
Faced with stiff competition from other platforms Hi5 eventually closed down in 2018.
Google Buzz was a social networking and microblogging service launched by Google in February 2010. It was integrated into Gmail to provide a platform for sharing updates, photos, links, and other multimedia content with friends and contacts.
Google Buzz automatically connected Gmail users with other contacts, and it allowed users to follow or be followed by others like other social media platforms. It provided a timeline-style interface where users could post status updates, comment on other user’s posts, and share content.
However, Google Buzz faced significant privacy concerns and backlash shortly after its launch. The service initially automatically connected users with their most frequently contacted Gmail contacts, exposing personal information without users’ explicit consent. This raised concerns about privacy and led to criticism from users and privacy advocates.
In response to the backlash, Google made several changes to the service, such as giving users more control over their privacy settings and making it easier to opt out or disable Buzz altogether. Despite these efforts, Google Buzz failed to gain significant traction and faced declining usage over time.
Due to its lack of popularity and ongoing privacy concerns, Google ultimately discontinued Google Buzz in December 2011. The lessons learned from Google Buzz’s shortcomings played a role in shaping the development of subsequent Google social networking endeavours, such as Google+ and Google Currents.
FriendFeed was a social media aggregation service launched in 2007 by a group of former Google employees, including Paul Buchheit, the creator of Gmail. It allowed users to consolidate various social media updates into a single stream.
FriendFeed aimed to address the problem of managing multiple social media accounts and keeping track of updates from different platforms. It aggregated content from social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. Users could follow friends and see their activities and updates in real time.
One of the notable features of FriendFeed was its ability to foster discussion and engagement around shared content. Users could comment on posts, like them, and have conversations within the platform. It also offered real-time updates, allowing users to see immediate activity from their friends.
FriendFeed gained a dedicated user base and received positive reviews for its innovative approach to social media aggregation. However, in 2009, Facebook acquired FriendFeed, and the service gradually started to decline as its features and functionality were integrated into Facebook’s platform.
Eventually, FriendFeed was officially shut down in April 2015.
Originally launched as a social bookmarking site in 2003, Delicious allowed users to save and share links. It faced declining popularity and changed ownership multiple times. In 2017, the site was acquired by Pinboard, and the original Delicious site was shut down.
Launched in 2003 Delicious, formerly known as del.icio.us, was a social bookmarking web service that allowed users to save, organize, and share bookmarks to web pages. It gained popularity as a convenient tool for managing and accessing bookmarks across different devices and platforms.
With Delicious, users could bookmark websites by tagging them with relevant keywords, making it easier to search and categorize their bookmarks. The service also offered features like saving bookmarks privately or sharing them publicly, subscribing to other users’ bookmarks, and discovering popular or trending bookmarks based on user activity.
One of the key advantages of Delicious was its social aspect, as users could follow other users and explore their bookmark collections. This allowed for discovering interesting websites and content recommended by like-minded individuals. The service also provided browser extensions and bookmarklets for quick bookmarking.
Over time, Delicious faced challenges and changes in ownership. In 2005, it was acquired by Yahoo!, which continued to operate the service until 2011. During this period, the service underwent some redesigns and updates. However, it experienced a decline in popularity as other bookmarking services and social media platforms gained traction.