Somewhere in the profile page of my Friendster (or simply FS) account, you’ll read the phrase “member since July 2004.” Yes, I’ve been a Friendster user for almost seven years now. I created the account when I was just in junior high school; now, I’m already taking my Masters! At that time, most of my classmates are in that social networking site (SNS). You are not “in” if you’re not in Friendster. FS also became a bridge between me and former elementary batch mates, most of whom I haven’t seen since we graduated in 2002.
Early FS users strived to reach the 500-friend limit. Persons who barely spoke to each other became “friends” while one can always hear people saying to each other “you owe me a testi!” Eventually, the 500-friend limit was stretched to 5000 while testimonials were later relabeled as “comments.” I remember how I blasted, at one point, my contacts who do not “give back” comments. Instead of studying Chemistry or doing my project in Advanced Biology, I spent more time after class surfing Friendster. There’s this gratification obtained from being able to browse other people’s pages, right? Just imagine how thrilled I was whenever a crush accepts my friend request (and in any of my online accounts, actually). Indeed, Friendster was an effective stalking tool!
Well, that was years ago. After dominating the Philippine social media scene for such a long time, Friendster had slipped into obsolescence. Many users have either neglected (this writer included) or deleted altogether their FS account. Isn’t it that just a few years ago, going online means opening one’s FS page? Some even go as far as denying that they’ve ever used that site. It has become that unfashionable! Amazingly, I know some people who succumbed to the Facebook bandwagon after years of bucking peer pressure for them to join Friendster.
Early last month, not-so-unexpected news came: Friendster will be doing away with its social network service to transform itself into an all-music site (similar to MySpace). All user page content except one’s profile (except the comments) and friend’s list will be deleted by May 31, 2011. In line with this, Friendster users have been advised to export their files to other websites like BlogSpot and WordPress for blogs and Multiply and Flickr for photos through a certain application. User profiles and testimonials can also be converted to zip files. As I’m writing this, all my Friendster photos are already in Multiply while I have saved a WinRAR Zip file of my entire account.
Alexa Web Rankings says the Friendster is now just the 15th most visited site in the country (as of May 2011). FS is still more popular than sites like Jobstreet and JobsDB, but it’s nothing compared to FB. When I made a report for my online journalism class last December 2008, FS was still the 2nd most popular site in the country. Facebook is now the most visited site here – getting more hits than search engines Google and Yahoo.
What does the meteoric rise and eventual extinction of Friendter usage mean? People are constantly looking for new things and that they can easily be swayed by a perceived bandwagon. If Facebook will follow Friendster’s trajectory, I dare say that in a few years, it will fade away, too. My FS account will never be as active as before, but I don’t see any reason to delete it. I am waiting for the “new” Friendster. Who knows, it might be able to recover some of its lost glory!