An Almost History of Social Networking Sites

Warning: Long entry ahead.

The world is almost at its technological peak right now. So, it is not surprising that a lot of social networking sites have sprouted left and right on the online world. There’s Facebook, Multiply, Friendster, Hi5, MySpace, etc. Then, there are the likes of Twitter and Plurk where people can post what they are doing every other second. That doesn’t end there. There’s Flicker, Photobucket and so on and so forth. In the Philippines, I think the most successful social networking sites are Facebook, Multiply, and Friendster.

Facebook only reached the advent on its popularity last year. Before 2009, Friendster remained to be the undisputed leader of social networking sites in the Philippine. 2009 saw a major revamp in the features of Facebook and the rest is you know… conquering of the online the world.

I have an interesting history with social networking sites. I became a member of Multiply, Friendster, and Facebook in those days when they were still unheard of. Since I spend almost half of my life in the computer, I guess this is no surprise. I heard these sites from a friend who also spends ( I think) half of her life in front of the PC… Soleil. Haha.

I joined Friendster in 2003. I was still in high school then and Friendster was still in its beta version in a very blue template. Back then, the only cool thing I can brag is the number of my friends I have and the number of testimonials I get. But since Friendster was still not part of the Filipino vocabulary, having around 20 friends and 10 testimonials were already big deal. By the time I got almost 50 testimonials, I guess I was already considered as a Friendster elite. That was in 2003. In 2004, suddenly everyone in school had a Friendster account. Then, the rest of the Philippines followed. No matter how popular Friendster was, I never got addicted because the only thing I could do was post new pictures, update my profile, and leave a testimonial on a friend’s page.That’s when I was introduced to Multiply. How? I can’t even remember.

Multiply is pretty much about blogging and posting pictures. It’s approach is more of having an own webpage sans the very detailed display of the profile that Friendster uses. I did not stick with Multiply for so long because I also had very few "Friends" and it’s pathetic when the only site you can check is your own. I only became an active Multiply user last year because suddenly everyone has a digicam and were all craving to share their pictures. And because Multiply provides an easy way of uploading humongous pictures, it clicked. However at the end of 2009, my Multiply activity dwindled again ( the same applies to everyone else I guess) because of… the almighty FB.

In 2006 (or 2007 I guess), Soleil asked me to try Facebook. I thought Facebook will just be another Friendster. However, I found FB more interesting because of the ‘Wall", how you can easily comment on pictures, it provides you an update of what your friends do and many other unique features. Facebook was still unknown in the Philippines back then so I had very few friends. I sent invites to my classmates and the next thing I knew, everyone of my HS and Chem batchmates had FB accounts. Fast forward to 2010. Almost 10 million Filipinos are now using Facebook. Wow. I never imagined that its popularity would reach these heights. It had already gone I think three major layout changes. ( Waha. I’m proud I’ve seen the ancient FB layout…. when it was you know… not so cool yet) The ever universal wall, the chat function, and the ever number growing number of games are I think among the keys to its success. I think the incorporation of so many features made people stick with FB, a feat that Friendster was not able to achieve. And while Friendster appealed mainly to masses and the young ones (Don’t argue), FB appeared almost to people of all ages. It’s amazing that my teachers, my boss, my seven year-old-cousin and even the dog of a friend have FB accounts. With the ever still growing number of features and innovations that FB has to offer, I wonder how long will it take to remove Friendster and Multiply from the Filipinos’ vocabulary.

Social networking is fun. It can kill time. It provides us a way of connecting with relatives, old friends, as well as new friends. The only drawback I guess is more and more people are getting addicted to these sites leading to an almost idle lifestyle. I, as well, am guilty. I do not advocate the incorporation of so many games in FB because I know they have now turned into tactics to attract users and make people stay on the site. It’s also saddening that even at work some people use FB to play games. Some students can’t wait to sit in front of the computer just to check if they have a new comment or if somebody have tagged them. Despite the fun that FB offers, I am still afraid how it will affect the lifestyle of its users in the long run.

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