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A History of Online Social Networking

Rod Munday | Friday May 01, 2009

Categories: New Media, Internet, Social Networking, History of the Internet, Other Topics, Website Analysis, Social Networking Analysis, Web Pages

In this section we will look at the brief history of online social networking in the form of brief biographies of the most popular sites.

1995 Classmates.com

The site that has the distinction of being first social network site is generally regarded as Classmates.com created in 1995. This was an American precursor to the UK’s Friends Reunited site (1999). The site was a way for ex-students of American schools or colleges to contact their friends, as well as browsing the network for others who were at the same school or college. Despite being seen by many as the first social network site, Boyd and Ellison argue that classmates.com should be disqualified because it did not allow users to create profiles or list Friends until years later (Boyd & Ellison 2007).

1997 Six Degrees.com

SixDegrees.com, launched in 1997 is, according to Boyd & Ellison, the first social network site. However, while SixDegrees.com attracted millions of users it failed to develop a sustainable business model and in 2000 the service closed. Early adopters complained that once they had accepted friendship requests there was little to do on the site and since most users were not interested in meeting strangers, the site activity tended to ground to a halt once initial friendships had been kindled (Boyd & Ellison 2007).

2001 Ryze

Ryze.com was launched in 2001 as the first business social networking site. This made it a precursor to today’s professional orientated social network sites like Linkedin. Ryze was designed to help people grow their business networks and enhance their career prospects. A number of former Ryze employees and founder-members went on to form successful social networking sites of their own; for example a former member, Jonathan Abrams, went on to found Friendster and Ryze’s Chief Technology Officer, Paul Martino, founded Tribe.net (Boyd & Ellison 2007).

2002 Friendster

Friendster was launched as a social complement to Ryze. It was...


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