The original social networking site, Friends Reunited, is being shut down. Launched in 2000 by Steve Pankhurst and Jason Porter, the site allowed its users to get in touch with old acquaintances by searching for people who shared a school, university or workplace. During its heyday, the site had tens of millions of users. However, it was soon overshadowed by the rise of Myspace and then Facebook.
Pankhurst announced closure of the site in an email titled “The sunset of an era”. He wrote that “the world is now a very different place” and that Friends Reunited is no longer able to compete with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter…it is clear that the site is no longer really used for the purpose it was built for … therefore, it is with a heavy heart that we have decided to close the service down.” It was announced that the site will remain live for another month to allow users to download photographs they may have stored on the service.
Pankhurst had sold the site to broadcaster ITV in 2005 who later sold it to DC Thompson in 2009. Pankhurst was reported to have earned an estimated £30 million from selling the site. Two years ago, the current owner approached Pankhurst to buy the site back but a trial takeover period did not prove successful. Pankhurst is now planning to launch a new service called Liife. This will be enable people to plot key moments in their lives and share them with those who were involved rather than a wider audience.
People have reacted to the news of the site’s demise with nostalgia on Twitter.