Every now and then a new social network is presented with a lot of hype and aims to dethrone Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other dominant social networks. For a few days (if we’re lucky, weeks) it makes the expectation grow thanks to the media headlines and the interest of early adopters…
…and then it was never heard from again. Years later, you may discover that the profile you created still exists, because the network in question has managed to survive, usually with some change of ownership in between, but usually these networks end up dying quietly. Let’s remember some of them:
Five years ago, one of the most famous youtubers of the moment, Casey Neitstat, announced that he had developed a new social network that challenged all conventional schemes of what a social network should be.
To do this, he made the Beme mobile app only able to record with the screen turned off and encouraged his users to hang their smartphone around their neck and let it record their experiences in the first person: then the video would upload itself without giving the user the opportunity to edit it.
In a breakthrough, Beme even removed ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’, allowing users to reply to videos with photos instead; Neitstat saw this as a more ‘real’ way of giving feedback.
The first week after its launch was a blast for Beme (1.1 million videos were uploaded to the platform), but the numbers were inexorably falling after that. But that didn’t deter some investors: at the end of 2016 CNN decided to buy the network for 25 million dollars, keeping Neitstat at its head to ‘give a spin’ to the original idea.
CNN’s goal was to reinvent the way to bring news to the new millennial generation and make Beme a central part of its digital business…
But Beme would close down in February 2018, without having revolutionized either the world of social networks or online news.
Path was born in 2010, presented itself as “the social network for your real friends” and boasted of being “a smart diary” with which we could keep track of all our important activities.
All of this positioned itself (can you guess?) as a pro-privacy social network… although some time later it would end up leading some controversy due to the massive sending of SMS to the contacts in its users’ agenda.
In a short time, it managed to accumulate 15 million users… but after three years the problems began: several key employees of the company left, and funding problems began.
Thus, in 2015 it was bought by the South Korean company Kakao, which wanted to exploit the fact that, despite its decline, Path had managed to become strong in the Indonesian market. But even that was not enough to get the ball rolling, and Path ended up closing its doors in 2018.
Rarely has an emerging social network made it so clear from the outset which network it was inspired by and which it intended to displace as in the case of Quitter: the decentralized, “anti-capitalist” alternative to Twitter.
This microblogging network (not dependent on a single server, but on several interconnected ones: quitter.se, quitter.no, quitter.is…) copied from the name to the Twitter color scheme, and sought to outdo it in aspects such as the character limit (variable depending on the server, but which could be up to 1000) and the existence of groups (in the image of Facebook and Google+).
In general, despite some attempts by influential political activists on Twitter to lead a abandonment of the latter to massively land on Quitter, the waters quickly returned to their course and Quitter’s servers were quietly shutting down. Today, his heir on both a technical and philosophical level is the equally decentralized Mastodon.