April 28, 2011

Friendster Making Changes

A Friendster official said Thursday that the social networking site will soon delete nearly a decade's worth of user photos, blog entries and other data in a revamp to set it apart from Facebook.

The overhaul is meant to help Friendster regain a semblance of online relevance after being dominated by Facebook in the social networking market.  Friendster has gained 115 million registered members since 2002, but only about 40 million currently have valid emails and fewer still are active users.

"We are introducing a new and improved Friendster in the coming weeks that will be focused on entertainment and fun. There will be new features that will leverage on your online activities and will enable you to connect with friends or engage new friends with similar interests," the company said.

Nor Badron, a company spokesman, said the social network emailed its members over the past week to inform them to save their pictures, profile information, messages and blog posts on other sites by May 31.

"This is an evolution of the site to push the boundaries of our business," Nor told The Associated Press. "It's not about direct competition with Facebook. Whoever wants to compete with Facebook would be crazy."

This is the biggest change to Friendster since Vincent Tan's online payment systems company MOL Global purchased the site in 2009.  Tan's businesses include retail franchises in Southeast Asia like Starbucks and 7-Eleven.

Nor told AP that Friendster will launch services that are not provided by Facebook in June, and it will focus on a new platform for social interaction in gaming, music, entertainment and online shopping.

He said members of Friendster can have a different social networking experience by cultivating unique online identities that are different from their real-life ones.  They are able to connect with people who they do not know personally and share music with them or play online games together.

"We realize there's no need to have photo albums or the duplication of status updates on both Facebook and Friendster, so this is something totally different, a whole new ball game," Nor said. "It's about something you don't do on Facebook that you can do on Friendster."


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