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Friends Reunited was a social network designed for people to reunited. It was the first social network to gain a large presence in the United Kingdom. The site initially started out as paid but then went to a free model. The site changed hands several times throughout its life, and at one point was owned by ITV (a large British TV broadcaster). It was set up by a husband and wife duo, Steve and Julie Pankhurst. The site was mainly aimed at UK users.
Friends Reunited closed on February 26, 2016.
The site was created due to the creator's curiosity to discover what had happened to the friends he went to school with. The site was set up in July 2000, and was sold to British broadcaster ITV in December 2005. At this point, the site had over 15 million members, exceeding the founder's aims and had been used for many more ways than it was designed for. It became one of the sites that employers checked before they hired someone. It had also been used by partners who wanted to extract revenge on their exes. Some users have been sued for the comments that they have made on the site.
By 2007, site was seeing a slowing in growth, with only a 1.2% year on year growth. It was being drowned out by sites like Facebook and Bebo who had grown hugely in those years. Due to this, the creators of the site then started out with TV advertising.
In 2008, the site then dropped the subscription fee required of users in an attempt to regain control over the huge losses the site had taken. This was also an attempt to gain more users into the site.
Friends Reunited was then sold in 2009, to an investment company (Brightsolid Limited) who are owned by a British publisher, DC Thomson. The sale was completed in 2010.
In 2011, the site's owners then said that the site was only worth £5.2 million, which is a fifth of the price that they had paid to ITV a few years before.
In the middle of 2012, the site was relaunched in order to change from a place where school friends would reunite, into a place where people could collect and share memories of the past.
Later in 2013, the site's owners said that the site was "no longer considered an integral part of the company".
On 18th January 2016, Friends Reunited announced that it was closing. Later they gave a definite deadline of 26th February. They claimed that "the world was now a different place" and that they could no longer fit in and compete with companies like Facebook.
Friends Reunited ceased operation on 26 February 2016 at 15:18 UTC. The notice on the main page states that users will be contacted in the following months and will be provided a way to download their photos, but are otherwise unable to log in to their account.
Along with the shutdown, they announced the launch of a new free service liife.com that "allows you to remember and plot key moments in your life and upload new and old photos".
The site seems to be laid out in a few areas, and requires an account to access it. As of 18/01/2016, the email verification system does not seem to be working.
The pages are setout like this:
Between February 5 and 26, ArchiveTeam was able to download more than 300 GB of content, including almost all groups, some discussions, at least the first page of every discussion thread along with the groups.
The content will be browsable in the Wayback Machine, but you should use the
friendsreunited.co.uk domain in the URLs you search for, even if the original one has
friendsreunited.com, as URLs were saved in the former way.
You can also access the bulk WARC archive files from here.