The Friends Reunited site, which is still online for now

The site has changed hands a number of times in recent years — but nobody managed to make it work

Friends Reunited, one of the first famous social networks, has finally shut down.

The site one had millions of active users. But those had dwindled to only “a handful of members” who were mostly using the site as a message board, according to one of the original founders, Steve Pankhurst.

Friends Reunited was launched in 2000. It quickly became huge, allowing for some of the first mass social networking and focusing on putting old school friends back in touch with each other.

Friends Reunited's original logo, which included Mr Pankhurst's mother and father

It went on to be sold to ITV, the broadcaster, for £175 million in 2005. But it was beaten out by “the likes of Facebook”, Mr Pankhurst said, and it went into decline.

ITV then sold it on once again in 2009, for £25 million. It went to publisher DC Thompson that time, who was looking to use the GenesReunited offshoot as part of its family research business.

Since then, FriendsReunited dwindled and people stopped using the site, Mr Pankhurst said. He took the site on again to see if it could be revived, but Mr Pankhurst and business partner Jason Porter didn’t succeed.

"It became clear that most of the actual users coming to the site were using it purely as a messageboard," wrote Mr Pankhurst in a blogpost.

"And I also realised that of the more than 10m users registered, a lot had done so over a decade ago and hence their contact details were out of date.

"But importantly - it hasn't covered its costs and like any business this can't continue indefinitely.

"Therefore, whilst it's sad, I believe it's time to move on and put Friends Reunited to bed."

The news partly greeted by sadness and nostalgia. But reaction on social media mostly focused around the fact that the site was still open at all.