Let’s Take a Closer Look at Orkut, Google’s First Social Media Site

Orkut was a social media site that was created by Google in 2004. They created the site with the main aim of giving everyone around the world the chance to meet new people as well as maintain relationships with their friends and family. It was named after Orkut Büyükkökten, who was the Google employee that created it.

The History of This Social Media Event

Google launched Orkut on the 22nd January, 2004. Büyükkökten, a software engineer from Turkey, developed it while he was working with Google. Before his job at Google, he had worked for Affinity Engines, where he had created a similar system, called InCircle, that was intended for university students. In June 2004, Affinity engines filed a lawsuit against Google claiming that Orkut had come about thanks to the work that they had already done on InCircle.

In August 2007, Google announced that they would be redesigning the site and adding a new user interface with soft colors and round corners. These changes were put in place by the end of the month. There were also some more added features such as 9 friends being displayed on the homepage instead of 8. Furthermore, Google announced that Orkut would now be available in Bengali, Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, and Kannada.

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Later the same year, Google announced that Orkut users would soon be able to see updates from their friends on the homepage. Furthermore, an opt-out button was added for those users who wanted to keep some of their profile information private.

Towards the end of 2009, Google released a new version of Orkut. This new Orkut was simpler, faster, and more customizable. It was much easier to navigate, and video chats and promotions were available.

However, there was one major issue with the new version. Before the new version was launched, Orkut users could send messages to their friends using the scrapbook (the same thing as Facebook’s wall) or by sending a message privately. These message systems were disabled in the new version as a new privacy control was added. Therefore, users ended up with a situation where messages sent from those still using the old version to those using the new version were not received by the recipient.

Orkut Has Had Its Fair Share of Controversy

There were a huge number of fake Orkut profiles that were used to spam proper users. This obviously became very annoying for the real users, but there was not a lot that Google could do to prevent this happening. This is something that is prevalent with all social media sites – even social media giants Facebook have issues with fake profiles.

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In Brazil in 2005, cases of racist abuse were reported to the police and mentioned on different Brazilian media outlets. The following year, a 20-year-old boy was arrested for spreading hate against those of an African descent using Orkut. Once again, this is an issue that all social media outlets have to deal with.

Orkut Was Banned in a Number of Countries

Orkut was extremely popular in Iran, but the government decided to block it one day. According to reports, this was because they believed it was a national security issue and went against Islamic ethics. To try and get around this ban, outproxy.com was created which allowed those in Iran to access their Orkut account. However, this was eventually blocked too, making it impossible for anyone in Iran to access Orkut.

In 2006, the United Arab Emirates decided to follow in Iran’s footsteps. Once again, this was because they claimed that it breached a number of Islamic ethics. Saudi Arabia was another country that decided to block this social media site.

It Has Had Its Legal Issues Too

Towards the end of 2006, Google were served a notice by the Bombay High Court for not doing enough to stop an India hate campaign. There was a group on the social media site (“We Hate India”) that had a lot of anti-India content and even had a picture of an Indian flag being burned.

Even before the notice was served, other Orkut users had come across the group and had contacted Orkut directly so that they could remove it. The group was eventually removed, but then other groups popped up against those who hate India. The lawsuit was eventually dropped, but the India police made a deal with Orkut that they would hep each other to catch those who were using the social media site to spread hatred.

Also, in 2006, the Brazilian government ordered Google to provide them with user information of Brazilian nationals who were using Orkut to sell drugs and get involved in child pornography. For each day that google didn’t hand over this information, they were to be charged $23,000. However, Google refused to release any information on the grounds that the servers being used were in the United States, so they are not subjected to Brazilian laws.

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It Was Eventually Shut Down

In 2014, on June 30th, Google announced to the world that Orkut would cease to exist from October onwards. This was because they could just not keep up with other social media sites such as Facebook, Blogger, and YouTube. Orkut was never really a main project of Google’s, which is why it was overtaken by other sites. It was replaced by Hello back in 2016.