Did that name ring a little bell? Long before we were scrolling through Facebook timelines, watching endless stories on Instagram or searching for a professional network on LinkedIn, we were trying to build the best and biggest profile on Belgian Social Media Network Netlog (while also waiting for people to slide in our MSN). Story time!
So for those of you that don’t know what we’re talking about, Netlog has had quite the social media journey. Starting out as Facebox (Zuckerberg disapproves), Bingbox but originally known under the catch name of ASL.TO, the website was launched in 1999 by founders Lorenz Bogaert and Toon Coppens. The site changed through the years and kept importing new applications to customize your very own profile, including avatars, lay-outs, messaging options and even an option to see whoever visits your profile (yes, we do really miss this). Focussing itself as a social network for teens and young users, Netlog gained rapid growth and the numbers kept raising.
By 2007 Netlog reached over 28 million members and kept growing, even outside Europe. In 2009, 14 year old me was oversharing anything and everything to a network of teens. Netlog was just simple fun and it wasn’t taken that seriously like social media nowadays. It was one of the first platforms where many millenials made their first steps in the social media landscape and that’s why most people my age still remember it very vividly.
But all good stories must come to an end and so did the beautiful coming-of-age tale of many teenagers on Netlog. While many users were already moving to other platforms, looking at you Facebook, the platform announced a merge with another platform named ‘Twoo’ in 2014. That’s when most people abandoned ship and decided it was time to head over to the mothership of status posts and Farmville. But the real drama happened in 2018, when users old and new were notified that security of passwords and logins had been compromised and their data could be used by external players. I’d yell “abadon ship” but it already sank.
So what’s up with Netlog suddenly disappearing and what did we learn? Well first of all, users like change, but they don’t like big sudden changes. A platform merging with another is scary and causes distrust within its community. Remember when we all screamed in panic during the announcement that Instagram would become property of Facebook?
And secondly, we just outgrow things. Facebook became the next big thing, while Netlog was left with some leftover late-adopters.
A social media platform will always be an unstable environment and changes will cause people to rage no matter how big. Some things just don’t survive the battle of time and Netlog was one of the saddest casualties on the battlefield.
I miss you, Netlog. And your function to see anyone who visits my profile, that too.