Social network pioneer Friends Reunited website to close down

Friends Reunited, one of the original social networking sites, is to close.

Steve Pankhurst, one of the site’s founders, said it is still used by some but is “no longer used for the purpose it was built for”.

The site launched in 2000 and was bought by ITV for £175 million in 2005, reaching more than 10 million users globally.

However, its popularity has suffered due to the rise of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks.

Mr Pankhurst said the decision to shut the site, which he had reacquired from publisher DC Thompson, came because it could no longer cover its own costs.

“I knew it was near impossible to re-boot something that was old and in decline,” he said, describing user numbers as “a handful”.

Facebook currently has around 1.4 billion active users.

According to Mr Pankhurst and business partner Jason Porter, the site had become just a “message board” for the few users who remain.

“And I also realised, that of the 10m+ users registered, a lot had done so over a decade ago and hence their contact details were out of date,” he said.

“So even if you were coming to the site to find someone and wanted to contact them, how frustrating it must be to see them listed there and try to contact and then get no response.

“Therefore, whilst it’s sad, I believe it’s time to move on and put Friends Reunited to bed.”

Mr Pankhurst added that he now plans to launch a new service Liife, a platform for users to plot the key moments of their lives, but only with those they shared them with rather than a wider audience.