In the past week or so, many teens have fled the comforts of TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat to make profiles on a new social networking site: FriendProject.
Well, it?s not actually new ? in fact, it's old. FriendProject was started in around 2008 to ?give users the old experience back of what custom profiles were like.? It?s a ?social environment where you can make friends,? and ?Members have the ability to customize their profile, homepage, and blog to express themselves.?
FriendProject is most often compared to the old version of Myspace, which had been the most popular social networking site before the rise of Facebook. When FriendProject was first created many flocked to it as ?the next Myspace?? a 2008 entry in Urban Dictionary defined FriendProject as ?Myspace?s replacement? and ?the future of networking websites.? Mashable even wrote about it in 2008.
But alas, as other social media platforms such as Facebook, and later Instagram and Snapchat, began to grow, FriendProject lost its once-magical allure and faded into the wasteland of abandoned internet projects.
That is? until now.
Several days ago, word started getting around on TikTok about FriendProject, and teens started making videos of themselves creating and customizing their profiles and telling others to add them on the network.

In recent months, especially as teens are spending more and more time on their phones due to social distancing, many have gotten bored with traditional social media such as Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. But FriendProject offers a completely different, novel experience, and a chance to share interests and meet new people that aren?t already in one?s circle.
I also think the recent rise of 2000s or ?Y2K? fashion and aesthetics can help explain the sudden rise of FriendProject. This style involves bright and pastel colors, electronic and R&B music, logos, flip phones, luxury brands and materials, as well as scene music and fashion.
This period was also when social networking sites ? i.e. Myspace ? were first starting to become popular, but hadn?t consumed our lives to the point that they do now. I think many teens, used to very streamlined social media sites like Instagram or YouTube ? view the Myspace era as perhaps a more creative and fun age of the internet. Thus, as a ?new age? Myspace, FriendProject instills a sense of curiosity and nostalgia in many of them (even though most of them are too young to have used the original Myspace).
Teens also like to hop on new and novel websites, trends, etc. that are not yet too mainstream, which allows them to experiment and organically build up their communities. Making a FriendProject account feels like entering a portal into a past age ? like finding internet treasure.
Unfortunately, there?s a dark side to this enchanting platform. Many say that it seems very suspicious and might be compromising people?s personal information. Additionally, there is some evidence that it is owned by (or affiliated with) homophobic evangelical Christians (see below TikToks). FriendProject?s official Facebook and Twitter accounts are also rarely active, and although there isn?t much information about its founding or history, many are saying that its creators ?abandoned? the site years ago. It is now owned and operated by ClearVista.

However, some don?t seem to be phased by this. A small group of Gen Zers (self-described ?scene kids?) is saying in TikTok comment sections that they?ve been using the site for years and nothing bad has happened to them. Additionally, while in the 2000s teens may have been more worried about their privacy, people now don?t usually tend to mind sharing personal information online. Many are also saying something along the lines of ?So what, other sites like Facebook and TikTok also collect and track your information? and are advocating others to simply not enter any real personal information and to use VPNs.
FriendProject?s site has been down several times recently, presumably because of the influx of new users. Some now want to move to other Myspace look-alikes because of FriendProject?s privacy concerns and growing popularity.
I?ve even seen a few TikTok users calling for petitioning Myspace to bring back the old version of its platform.
On an online petition called ?Bring Back the Original MySpace!? one anonymous user recently commented, ?It would help so much for the original Myspace to be restored. Myspace was outstanding and superior to ALL the social media platforms we are offered nowadays. Unlike these social media websites that are very mentally draining for young adults and toxic for [the] majority of people, old school Myspace was very helpful mentally? Please help this happen. It would give a lot of people hope.?

Here is the official site.