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Friends Reunited considers dropping pay walls

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Proto-social network Friends Reunited looks set to capitulate in its battle to make web users pay for services. Owner ITV is considering dropping some subscription fees in an attempt to stop defections to Facebook, Bebo, and other free sites.

Friends Reunited currently charges £7.50 every six months for the ability to contact other members.

A spokeswoman said: "No decisions have been taken yet. Plans are underway to build a bridge between Friends Reunited and ITV’s other online assets. These include making more parts of Friends Reunited free to use."

A move towards free services would be part of broader plans to integrate Friends Reunited with ITV's other dating and genealogy sites, she added.

It would be a shocker if the site didn't do something to stop the rot, however. Friends Reunited claims 19 million members, but has failed to capitalise on the explosion in social networking traffic in the last year, according to ComScore data. Figures in September showed it had scraped a 1.2 per cent year-on-year rise in traffic.

The site was bought by ITV for £120m cash in 2005. It's now looking rather tired next to more modern networks with their array of Ajax-powered ex stalking tools.

Boss Jon Clarke says revenues at Friends Reunited are up 38 per cent for the year, however. ®

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