What Was The First Social Media?

Lately, Twitter has been in the discussion a lot. Some think it’s already dead, others are waiting for it to burn, and some try to move on to another social media app—the rest just do like nothing has changed, of course. Whatever how everything ends, there were other social media sites before, and there will be more after. But this led me to realize that I don’t even know what the first was!

When was the First Social Media Launched?

Launched on August 1, 2003, MySpace is, for some people, the first social networking service. It’s certainly the first one to get that big, but it was not even the second one. In fact, even LinkedIn is older (by just three months!)… And do you remember Friendster?

But what are we calling a Social Media?

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of Social Media is:

Forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos).

As you know, the Internet getting old. We have to go back a bit in the past to learn about the first social media. Back in 1979, we saw the emergence of Usenet, created by Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis, a discussion system that was not a Social Media, but it was the first step in the creation of one. In fact, it was the ancestor of Internet forums.

In 1985, came the second step, The WELL (The Whole Earth ’Lectronic Link) was launched by Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant and offered virtual communities. The same year, GE launched GENie (General Electric Network for Information Exchange) which also developed the idea of the virtual community. Then Listserv created by Éric Thomas in 1986 popularized the mailing lists, and Internet Relay Chats (IRCs)—developed by Jarkko Oikarinen—did the same for the text-based chat system for instant messaging.

Read about the history of ThePalace.com on theoutline.com

By the mid-1990s, chat rooms became more common, especially with the help of the graphical chat room servers of The Palace—created by Jim Bumgardner and produced by Time Warner Interactive in 1994.

All those websites and services paved the way for Social Media sites by developing technologies, concepts, and philosophies that formed the idea of social networking online.

But what is the first REAL Social Media site?

The title should probably go to Classmates.com. Founded by Randy Conrads in 1995, the website was originally created to help users to find and connect with old class members and colleagues from kindergarten to college, workplaces, and even the U.S. military.

That said, the one that is largely considered to be the first real social media site is SixDegrees.com, created by Andrew Weinreich in 1997. It was designed to connect people together.

On SixDegrees.com, the users listed friends, family members, and acquaintances on the site (but also externally, which helps invite new users to join the site), and post messages that were sent to people linked to different degrees—up to three degrees of connections. They simply created their personal networks to share content.

The SixDegrees.com Logo.

This was before blogs became huge. In fact, LiveJournal was started by Brad Fitzpatrick in April 1999, and Blogger.com created by Evan Williams and Meg Hourihan launched four months later—Wordpress was launched in 2003.

But the model that SixDegrees.com established was not forgotten. In fact, it was the template for Friendster that was founded by Jonathan Abrams in March 2003, and even Myspace which was founded by Chris DeWolfe, Tom Anderson, and Jon Hart and launched on August 1, 2003.

More specialized social media platforms emerged at the same time as the business-oriented LinkedIn, the music-oriented Last.fm, and the photo-sharing Flickr.

As for Facebook and Twitter, they were launched in 2006—before Tumblr (in 2007), Instagram (in 2010), or the ill-fated Google+ (in 2011)—and became the most prominent Social Media site during the next decade.

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