The imminent face lift of social networking site Friendster teaches a nasty lesson: the site will erase all its users' data, highlighting the risks of making investments in free online services.
Friendster, one of the earliest social networks, is undergoing a massive face lift and erasing most of its user’s data as part of the overhaul.
The social network actually hit the digital sphere before the days of Facebook and MySpace, and while it has been struggling in the relevance stakes it still boasts around 50 million users with most of them in Asia.
It has come as a shock to most users that on May 31 their data will be erased.
This includes all posted photos, messages, comments, testimonials, shout outs, blogs, forums and groups. If you signed up as a Friendster user back at its launch in 2002 – that is a hell of a lot of data.
Friendster accounts will not be deleted and friend’s lists will be preserved, along with basic profile information, wallet and games.
In a big tick to Friendster digital customer service, the social network has posted clear steps on the site instructing users on ways to export, download and retrieve their soon to be nuked data.
They have also created an app to help with the process, the Friendster Exporter App.
But not all digital face lifts are this well planned.
In the not too distant future it is very likely that some online social platforms may simply cease to exist.
And as the Sony gaming community rudely discovered this week, when hackers shut down the global gaming network and promptly stole the personal data of 77 million subscribers, your data is never 100 per cent safe.
As for Friendster, its radical overhaul has been prompted by the uber dominance of Facebook, which has forced all social networking platforms to re-examine their unique offering to users.
“Our improved site is designed to create new profiles that allow you to connect differently with people and do things differently than other networking sites.
"Basically, the new site will complement your existing online presence in other social networking sites,” a Friendster spokesperson said.