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Friendster wipes data slate clean

Rebirth or slow friendless death?

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Social networking pioneer Friendster has been suspiciously quiet since being acquired by Malaysia's MOL Global in 2009 for around US$40 million, but users will at least be paying attention on May 31 when their data will be erased.

The site, which launched in 2002 and was hot in Asia until Facebook stole its thunder, has told users that from May 31, it will be wiping all existing data on user profiles including photos, posts, and rants.

“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.

Friendster accounts will not be deleted and friends lists will be preserved, along with basic profile information, wallet, and games. In the lead up to the overhaul, Friendster is encouraging users to export their content using the Friendster Exporter App. While Friendster did not outline details of its new “entertainment and fun” identity, it seems consistent with owner MOL’s original acquisition intentions.

MOL provided Friendster with its integrated payments platform, and when it acquired the social network said that the merged company would build on that platform “to deliver a content distribution network and e-commerce platform, enabling a wide array of content to be distributed to Friendster’s community and monetize via micro-transactions using MOL’s payment platform.” MOL’s offline assets include retail franchises in Malaysia and across Southeast Asia such as Starbucks, 7-Eleven, Borders, Krispy Kreme, Wendy’s, and Papa John’s Pizza.

If they follow their original plan it appears that the new look Friendster will be a youth targeted gaming and fast food centric portal which will extend into mobile services and payment options. If deviating from that path it looks like a quick, goodbye to old chums. ®

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