Google is shutting down its original social network but not because of Facebook

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Orkut in happier times.
Orkut in happier times.
Image: Google/Orkut

Before the many-headed hydra that is Google+, before Google Wave, before even Google Buzz, there was Orkut, a surprise hit of a social network created by a Google engineer in his spare time. Today Google announced that it is shutting it down. That is no surprise. Indeed, it is more surprising for many that Orkut was still around.

What spurred this decision? Was it the onslaught of Facebook, now a 1.27-billion-user behemoth straddling the world? Was it Twitter, the slow-burning but still influential social network? Was it WhatsApp, the sleeper hit that’s all the rage in the developing world?

Nope, nope, and nope. “Over the past decade, YouTube, Blogger and Google+ have taken off,” according to Google, and “because the growth of these communities has outpaced Orkut’s growth, we’ve decided to bid Orkut farewell.” That and perhaps the fact that the last few places where Orkut was popular—India and Brazil—are now the second- and third-largest contributors of Facebook users respectively, with the the US in first place. Indeed, in India, those few souls remaining on Orkut are known as “orkutiyas,” a mash-up of the name of the social network and a common Hindi swear word.

Google will keep a public archive of some parts of Orkut. Fortunately, though, it makes it easy to erase memories of your embarrassing past. Ex-users who don’t want their posts or names to be included in the archive can permanently delete their information by following these instructions.