Friendster to erase messages early and old photos

Long before there was Facebook, or even MySpace, there was Friendster, a website that gave many people their first experience of the social networking world to come.

Friendster, which began in 2003, has long been eclipsed by younger, more nimble competitors, becoming a sort of ghost town. But Tuesday, the current owners told users plans to change its business strategy - and erase the treasure site digital memories, including old photos dorm room, blog entries late at night and references friend sincere, known as "evidence."

This triggered a wave of nostalgia among members of Friendster, although most have stopped visiting the site long ago.

Jim Leija, 31, who works in a non-profit organization of music in Ann Arbor, Michigan, recalled the court to his partner, Aric Knuth, through the site.

"All our initial discussions were with each other through their messaging systems," he said. "We were writing love notes back to the early winter of 2003."

Mr. Leija said that even if he had not used the service within three or four years, news of its plans to clear older documents tugged at his heartstrings. "Your emotions get wrapped up in," he said. He thought for a moment in time in our lives. "

Striking mass of evidence so embarrassing wardrobe choices, unrequited crushes may come as a relief for some, especially at a time when it seems that everything uploaded to Facebook can haunt forever. But some say that Friendster has unexpectedly turned into a time capsule with snapshots of what they once were. This is a version of history that is not in a shoebox or dusty album, but live on the Web - for now.

"We want to forget our mistakes and bad choices, but we are also a bit of trouble remembering," said Danah Boyd, a social media researcher at Microsoft and a boy at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. " These old systems are our memories. "

Joanne McNeil, who studies and writes about Internet culture, said that most of life is lived on the Web, people become more emotionally invested in the presence of certain online services, even those they have abandoned.

Ms. McNeil added that the realization that years of history could be removed on a whim company was shocking.

"The impermanence of the Internet was a way of life," she said. "A site could disappear in a few weeks, months. But Google and Gmail came along and changed, and now we are still waiting to have a copy of our online lives."

Friendster plans to strip the service recalled some old equipment to move from Yahoo in April 2009 to remove the plug from GeoCities, a leading provider of free Web home pages. At the time, Internet-yourselfers and historians have worked to keep the site millions of pages to disappear forever. Jason Scott is the founder of a group called Team records trying to save the content online. He recently joined efforts to preserve the videos from Google Video, Google, which stops in favor of the most popular YouTube.

Mr Scott said the shuttering of social services and online communities on the web was a "question cultural criticism."

"This is the daily activity of neurons of a world, society, collected and saved," he said. "For meit is very valid and useful to make sure it is saved for the future."

Mr. Scott said his group planned to try to download as much data as possible Friendster public before it is erased at the end of May, and make it available online in some form.

current owner Friendster, Malaysia MOL Global, said site information View basic profile and friends lists would remain intact as it becomes more of an entertainment site. It provides ways for members to upload photos and other documents threatened.

Friendster was once considered a hot property. The donor site is included Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, and K. Ram Shriram, an early investor in Google. In fact, Google has offered to buy Friendster for $ 30 million in 2003, but the site's founder, Jonathan Abrams, chose to remain independent. When MOL Global acquired in late 2009 for an undisclosed sum, he stated that the site had over 115 million members, though it was not clear how many of them were active.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Mr. Abrams said he had not heard of the planned changes on the site. And he said he was surprised that anyone would care.

"It is so old news for me," said Abrams, who is involved in projects including a workspace for start-ups and an enterprise social media. "After it was purchased by the Malaysian company, which was the last chapter."