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R.I.P Orkut! How India’s first social networking site died a slow and painful death

Dailybhaskar.com | Last Modified - Jul 02, 2014, 09:28 AM IST

Wrong time, wrong reasons: Here's the story of Orkut's fall in India
  • R.I.P Orkut! How India’s first social networking site died a slow and painful death
    R.I.P Orkut! How India’s first social networking site died a slow and painful death
    “Time to say goodbye to Orkut” posted Google today announcing the demise of Orkut social networking platform. The website will not work after 30 September 2014.

    The landing page of the once the most popular social networking website today shows the message “Orkut will not be available after September 30, 2014” today.

    READ - Google announces end of 'Orkut'; to focus on Youtube and Google

    ORKUT, the name does ring a bell today- it was the oldest social networking platform that Indians used. The platform was owned and operated by Google, the search giant.

    Founded in 2004 this platform soon became available for Indians, but was engulfed in news constantly, till Facebook came and deraild it rom th number one position. The spectacular rise in Facebook and other factors resulted in reducing popularity of the social networking website, which will soon leave it’s online presence.

    Today in an nostalgic mood, we are trying to trace the reasons that caused Orkut to fail in India.

    The beginning in India - 2003-2004

    When Orkut was being founded in 2004 as a medium to promote social networking among people from different regions and backgrounds, India was busy drafting regulations related to online content and cyber security.

    On 27 February 2003 by way of a Gazette Notification, procedure for blocking websites was prescribed. Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, Cert-In was formed and was made the ''single authority'' to issue instructions for blocking websites. (GSR 181(E) IT Act Notification No. 181, Deity, India)

    Soon after on 7 July 2003, another Notification was issued, which said "websites promoting hate content, slander or defamation of others, promoting gambling, racism, violence, terrorism and other such material, in addition to promoting pornography, including child pornography, and violent sex can easily be blocked since all such websites may not claim constitutional right of free speech.” (G.S.R. 529(E) Procedure for Blocking of Websites, Law.GeekUpd8)

    What Orkut did to Indians?

    When orkut came “it revolutionized the network phenomenon by giving you access to practically everyone on the network”, said WatBlog. The platform was different, new and hence, people flocked to the social network.

    When a pen is in your control, you can write anything---the same thing happened with Orkut. Users created all kind of content, opinion, issues on the platform. Also in one of the earliest cases of censorship of social media, we saw Orkut falling in the hole of cyber security regulations.

    Since this was one of the first social networking websites, we saw all kind of profiles, pages coming up on the site, including fake profiles. “ I did a search on orkut for India based girls across any age group and out of the first ten pages of result i found only 7 REAL profiles the rest were fake porn profiles”, says WatBlog. That’s not all, all kind of ‘I hate xyz', 'I hate abc' groups started coming up with people actually posting anything on the pages. The reputation of the platform took a backseat with these.

    According to the Google Transparent Report between January to June 2011, it received requests to remove 236 communities and profiles from Orkut that were critical of a local politician.
    First 'social platform' - first experiece to 'create groups'- first experience to share information 'with the world'- first concern over 'social networks' - all happaned at almost similar time that eventually led to Orkut's slowing down in the race.

    Orkut was in news for all wrong reasons

    On October 10, 2006 the Bombay High Court's Aurangabad bench served a notice on Google for allowing a hate campaign against India, and this refereed to a community on Orkut called 'We Hate India'. This initially carried a picture of an Indian flag being burned and some anti-India content. (Wikipedia)

    On November 24, 2006, Bombay High Court asked the state government to file its reply in connection with a petition demanding a ban on social networking site, Orkut, for hosting an anti-Shivaji Web community

    In 2007 there were arrests after the body of son of a businessman was found dumped in a car. The investigations brought into light the scariest speculations related to social networking websites to life. This boy reportedly met three people on Orkut, and met them. This “looked like an abduction and extortion case”, reported TwoCircles.

    Soon we came across news saying Orkut has entered into a pact with the Cyber Crime Cell of Mumbai police saying it will block 'forums' and 'communities' that contain 'defamatory or inflammatory content' but also provide IP addresses from which such content has been generated, reported in EconomicTimes.

    The entry of Facebook

    Launched globally in 2004 as a platform to keep in touch with friends this entered into India soon. The ‘Like’ button did the magic and Facebook gradually ousted Orkut as the number one platform in July 2010, reported AllFacebook.

    One of the reasons, for Facebook taking a lead was its marketing approach. “Indian brands have got themselves well acquainted with the marketing muscle on Facebook where a lot of money is invested. This was never the case with Orkut due to its non-marketing friendly structure of the network,” reported TechInAsia.

    In the globe the popularity started slowing down with only Brazil as the major place of interest. In 2010, at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Marissa Mayer (then, working with Google) said lot of users in few days “caused the network to slow down to a crawl”, and “turned a lot of users away from it” in the US. Google‘s focus was on India and Brazil for the social network.

    Marred with comtroversies, Orkut was derailed by Facebook in India by 2010. By 2012 it climbed up the charts in Brazil, mentions ReadWrite.

    Oops, I am on Orkut, what to do now?

    Export all your pictures to albums in Google+. You will be able to save your Orkut profile, scraps, testimonials, & community posts to your computer using Google Takeout till September 2016. But after 14 September this year you will no more be able to log in on the site.

    Image: The logo of Orkut and landing of the social nwteorking website
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Web Title: RIP Orkut How India s first social networking site died a slow and painful death
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