Today nearly everyone is a member of at least one online social network, proven by Facebook having over 500 million members, but not every social network is thriving, in fact many of them are dying or are dead (Wauters). There are several potential causes, but of these the ones that may prove to be the most prevalent are uncontrollable exponential growth, niche market restriction, and lack of innovation and renovation.
Social networking sites have been established as being an online environment where people who share “personal or professional interests, place of origin, education at a particular school, etc.” can connect (“social networking”). The most popular examples of these web communities are MySpace and Facebook, but these are only genetic mutations of their predecessors.
One of, if not, the first social networking sites was SixDegrees.com, established in 1997, and within the following five plus years several others would appear, most notably Friendster (Boyd and Ellison 5). The popularity of Friendster soared due to media coverage, peaking by its having been listed second highest in Time magazine’s 50 Coolest Websites (Buechner). The growth that followed this media coverage was unexpected by Friendster, and that meant that their systems were ill equipped to handle the volume of traffic generated. When browsing the Internet, the most frustrating experience, especially early in the twenty first century was load time. Frustration with load time would diminish significantly from 2002 to 2005 when the average user’s ability to connect at speeds at or above 1Mbps increased nearly 25% ("Poll: Internet Connection Speed "). Friendster’s users became conscious of their inability to handle user volume as speed connections increased. Most likely the beginning of Friendster’s downfall was the revelation that connection speeds were no longer to blame. In response to this inability to handle its user volume, Friendster began to alienate its users by restricting their activity and banning them for a number of reasons. So, Friendster would unknowingly hand David the weapon that would lead to Goliath’s demise, profile regulations.
MySpace was launched in 2003, and brought with it a significant innovation, the ability of users to completely control the look and feel of their profile pages, and this control, especially for an artist, is of utmost importance (Boyd and Ellison 7). The complete customization led to the forming of a natural relationship between the site and music bands, and with Friendster alienating its users, MySpace grew and fast. Although these innovations were a new experience for its users, with fully customizable profiles and the exponential growth, again came long load times. MySpace was growing exponentially, and it continued to focus on what its users wanted instead of on needed design renovations. Many users, previously...