We look for the Detroit of the Internet: any time was better for these ex-giants of the Internet

The stormy and short history of the Internet since Tim Berners-Lee introduced the Web in the early 90s from the Swiss CERN is full of colossi, more or less large, more or less long-lived, that had their moment of glory and that now they have either closed the door or gloat in its ruins. Let’s review the detroit of the Internet, these wrecks that occurred not so long ago.

Detroit? Yes, Detroit, the city of Ford, bad boys and Motown. The city of Coppola, Madonna and Eminem. And the city of Robocop. Paul Verhoeven turned the motor city into a violent and ruined dystopia that years later became almost a reality. The crisis in the automobile sector caused the population diaspora (almost half a million in 30 years), bankruptcy in 2013 and a traditionally Democratic state like Michigan surrendering itself with open arms to the orange meats of Donald Trump in the 2016 elections.

With its entire abandoned neighborhoods and its post-apocalyptic air, Detroit is the spitting image of the overthrown empire, the new Babylon, the new Rome, the new Constantinople. And we are looking for its equivalent on the Internet. For which we took the Detroit meter for a walk. We also have article on 5 failed services on internet. Following are the detroit of the internet.


MySpace, Detroit of the internet

Status: Open
Years of glory: 2003-2008

You registered on MySpace and within seconds you had your first friend. Tom MySpace Tom. In minutes you were uploading photos and listening to music from groups that were all cool and that radio stations didn’t even have on their radar. Yes, MySpace was chaotic but it was our chaos and we were comfortable.

Perhaps MySpace was not the first social network but it was the first social network that really triumphed, that hit the ball. In Europe, which is always our way, we never use it much but the network created by former Friendster workers between its birth in 2003 and 2007-2008 was everything in the Anglo-Saxon world.

Then YouTube and Facebook exploded and the slow but inexorable decline of MySpace began. In 2011 Justin Timberlake and other partners bought the company to revive it. Obviously they failed and sold in 2015 to Time Inc.

What does Time want a corpse like MySpace for? Well, we do not know but we do know that a network that gave the push to artists like Lily Allen, Calvin Harris, Panic at the Disco! or the Arctic Monkeys (fucking Arctic Monkeys!) deserve a raise and a toast.

Bonus ball: in 2016 MySpace was the victim of a hack and the passwords of more than 360 million users were leaked. One of the largest in history. It is not the best way to green old laurels, no.

Bonus Ball 2: At the beginning of 2019 it became known that, probably after a disastrous migration, all the videos, photos and songs uploaded to MySpace before 2015 had been lost. A drama that the Internet Archive people could alleviate in part by recovering almost half a million songs.

Detroit Meter Level : High. Very high. It’s going to be difficult for them to take the title from him, really. We have started strong.



Status: Closed (as a social network)
Years of glory: 2008-2012

There was a time in Europe when what is now called “selfie” on a planetary level, was called “foto-tuenti”. We are talking about between 2008 and 2011, the golden age of the great Spanish social network.

Following the original Facebook policy of access by invitation, Tuenti had 15 million users in Europe, very close to Facebook, and in 2010 it was sold to the giant Telefónica.

A board to see the publications of others, an image gallery to see your photos and a chat to talk with your contacts. We did not need more but the older users were moving to other more mature and complete options (well, to Facebook really) and the youngest did not finish entering because they had options on WhatsApp or Snapchat that were much more in line with their tastes.

The company turned to Movistar’s low-cost virtual mobile operator and let the social network languish until it closed in 2016. Even though we all had hundreds or thousands of images uploaded there, no one really cared.

Detroitmeter level : more than Detroit we should speak in this case of, for example, Alexandria. Yes, it still exists but it is something else.

Google Plus

Google plus
Google plus

Status: Closed
Years of glory: a couple of weeks in Fall 2011

The facebook killer of Google launched with great fanfare in September 2011… and completely forgotten by the end of that year except for the same employees of Google. A shorter reign than that of Luis I.

Integrated with all other Google services (from Gmail to YouTube via Docs or Hangouts), the usual minimalist and pleasant design of the Mountain View company’s products and some good ideas such as circles (although they make it difficult to count followers and followings).

If I entered my Google+ TL from 2014/15, I would only find media updates, my own posts shared automatically by friends and some messages from famous developers that I follow. In just 5 or 10 minutes I air everything I have to read.

Deep down, it was appreciated not having family members sharing Cabronazi nonsense or political fake news, but what went wrong then? Why did it end up being shut down in April 2019 by Google with virtually no one caring? When, for example, Google Reader closed there was much more mobilization.

Well possibly because the aggressiveness of Google at its launch (practically imposed its use) was quite unpleasant and because, make no mistake, it was neither necessary then nor is it now.

Detroit Meter Level : He’s one of the strongest candidates so very, very high. Although there are titans of the network trying that their ephemeral glory does not fall (even more) into oblivion.

MSN Messenger

MSN messenger
MSN messenger

Status: Closed (Replaced by Skype)
Years of Glory: 2000-2008

In the late 90’s we were crazy about chat and messaging services. But each one belonged to his father and mother and if you used AIM and a friend of yours Yahoo Live Messenger, then you couldn’t chat. Then Microsoft arrived and had a good idea: it launched a chat within its MSN portal that was compatible with a good part of the other clients and protocols. He was born “The Messenger”.

Undoubtedly the most popular and recognizable Windows program of the first decade of this 21st century with more than 300 million users and an iconography that is already in the collective popular memory. We spent hours and hours in front of the computer sending buzzes, thinking funny states, inquiring who had blocked us and hatching a thousand and one plans. The good old days.

So what happened? Well, at Microsoft (which had changed the name to Windows Live Messenger in 2005) they did not hit the jump key to mobile phones and Blackberry Messenger, WhatsApp or Line ended up eating the toast.

In 2011 Microsoft bought Skype in what seemed like a clear declaration of intent that culminated in 2013 with the definitive closure of Messenger in all markets except China, where it was an institution. Finally, in 2014, All Saints’ Day, the Chinese also ran out of their Messenger. Without a doubt, the end of an era.

Extra ball: in Engadget we dedicated a great article to MSN Messenger remembering it. 100% recommendable.

Detroitmeter level : really quite low because more than Detroit its equivalent would be a Babylon or a Carthage, memories of another era.



Status: Closed
Years of glory: 2005-2009

Of French origin, Fotolog was born in 2002 and soon became a global phenomenon based on the golden age of digital cameras and their gradual incorporation into mobile phones. With a largely adolescent audience, Fotolog had in those first glorious years a feature that would cause a stupor today: unless you created a premium account, you could only post one photo per day and even the number of comments you could leave (and that they could leave in your photos) was limited. Undoubtedly a feature that, along with its peculiar design, was part of the charm of Fotolog.

However, the flourishing of the new social networks that today dominate the game (especially Instagram), the slow adaptation to mobile phones and a design that soon became outdated and never evolved enough made the old users leave and that the adoption of new photologgers was less and less.

Finally, and with hardly any warning, it closed at the beginning of 2016, plunging many into the nostalgie of some internet times that will never return… although what did end up returning was Fotolog in 2018 and in an app version. As of 2020, however, it closed again and in the original domain there seems to be an online magazine with nothing to do with the Fotolog we met.

Detroit meter level : we are talking about a strong candidate, no one can deny it.

Hispanic IRC

Hispanic IRC
Hipanic IRC

Status: Open
Years of Glory: 1998-2002

The glorious times of the Internet. Each mega cost a kidney and you had to disconnect the landline to navigate. We are talking about 1996-1997. Then someone tells us about Internet Relay Chat, IRC and it is nothing short of an epiphany.

In Europe we mainly connected to IRC-Hispano and we didn’t really know how it worked, but from our favorite client (which was simply a “program” at that time) we could talk anonymously with hundreds of other people from our room at a ridiculous cost.

For years we were really hooked on the madness of the rooms and the flirtations for privi without being too aware (except when it was our turn to change the password or our chat room was full of trolls) of the palace intrigues that were brewing behind the scenes, with split in two included.

Today the times of more than 45,000 recurring connections are far behind and fewer and fewer servers are available to the association but IRC-Hispano is still alive both through mythical clients such as mIRC and in webchat format. And there is CHaN, mythical bot, welcoming you when you return after such a long time.

Detroit meter level : we should rather talk about Benidorm or Torrevieja, decadent but with a certain charm. Anyway, it feels good to remember it and go in from time to time.


Status: Closed
Years of glory: 2013-2014

First of the big Twitter purchases (in October 2012, just a few months after its creation by Dom Hoffman and Rus Yusupov) and also one of the first ones that it came off when things started to go wrong: it closed at the beginning of 2017.

It basically consisted of short videos of a maximum of six seconds repeated in a loop ad infinitum. And he petó. 200 million users a month at the end of 2014. The kids lived on Vine.

But then Instagram enabled the option to upload small videos and the thrust was deadly. Snapchat endured (a little) better the appearance of Instagram Stories but Vine ended up dying. And it wasn’t that anyone cared too much.

Detroit meter level : not too high. Its character as a youth phenomenon makes few people remember the V app today.



Status : closed (March 2021)
Years of glory : 2015-2016

And since we are with Twitter, let’s continue with services bought by the blue bird company, which looked brutal and have ended up closing. The case of Periscope is particular since this application to broadcast live video was bought in 2015… when it had not yet been officially launched. Months later, when it came out, it was perfectly integrated with Twitter and it was a real hit. It looked like the future of streaming but it wasn’t.

Twitter, in a strange movement, began to put it aside to favor its own system, Twitter Live, to which it gradually incorporated the most outstanding characteristics of Periscope but both were passed over like YouTube cyclones., Instagram and, above all, Twitch in the streaming wars. And given the loss of leadership and the evident duplicity, Twitter decided to close Periscope at the end of 2020.

Detroit meter level : not very high. Rather, what could be and never really came to be… probably due to business decisions difficult to understand.



Status : Closed (except in Brazil)
Years of glory : 1999-2001

At the end of the 90s, everything was portals in the incipient world of the Internet: vertical websites that grouped lots of services, from email to chat through search engine, news, weather and even the horoscope. And in Europe the portal of the portals was Terra.

A subsidiary of the almighty Telefónica, it was born in 1999 after the turbulent purchase of the Catalan search engine Olé (which also gave rise to the famous Ya.com) and by the end of the year it had already gone public, causing madness among the average Spaniard. And by the beginning of the century it absorbed the American giant Lycos. But the summer of 2000 arrived and with the heat the dot- com bubble burst and took everything ahead.

Webmail (free, something not quite common at the time) and chat continued to be widely used for a while but Hotmail, Gmail, MSN Messenger and the incipient social networks were the definitive thrust… in Europe, because in South America he stayed strong for a long time.

Over the years at Telefónica they tried to reconvert Terra into a communication medium but it did not work and it finally closed in 2017 all over the world except in Brazil where as of 2020 it is still operating at full capacity.

Detroit meter level : in Europe and South America, very high. There was a time (short, yes) when Terra was synonymous with the Internet in the Spanish-speaking world.



Status: Open
Years of glory: 2010-2011

A 17-year-old Russian hacker, back in the fall of 2009, it is not known whether under the influence of low-quality vodka or what other substance, he asked himself: what would happen if I mix Skype and Russian roulette?.

Well, for him Russian roulette would be simply roulette but hey, the important thing is that a couple of days later he had it programmed and online and the following month he already had more than half a million daily users. The phenomenon Chatroulette had been born and had done it to the beast.

He even got porn clones (well, more porn) but by 2011 everyone had already forgotten Chatroulette. Today it still stands as it was at that time: the same interface (which already seemed outdated at the time), the same Flash players that break every moment.

What has changed is the people that are online: barely a thousand or two thousand on an unpleasant weekday night. The F2, the roulette trigger, keeps matching you fast but after half an hour up and down, you don’t find any male genitalia. It is appreciated but it also gives you some homeiness. The human psyche, how rare it is.

Bonus ball: here you can read Andrey Ternovskiy , the young Russian hacker, explaining in his own words those early days of Chatroulette.

Detroit meter level : really his reign was so fleeting that, although his fall has been disastrous, we cannot speak of one of the main candidates.

Yahoo! Answers

Yahoo! Answers
Yahoo! Answers

Status : Closed (May 2021)
Years of Glory : 2007-2010

We are almost at the end of this compilation and we have not yet mentioned any services of the former internet giant that was Yahoo! We remedy it by mentioning Yahoo! Answers, the community of knowledge based on questions and answers, born in 2005 and closing in May 2021.

Its moment of greatest splendor was at the end of the first decade of the XXI century when it was a recognized source of consultation but Quora took its witness in these conflicts from 2010 and was left as a source of memes thanks to the ridiculous and incredible questions and ingenuity and bad slobber of many answers (I am left with the user who asked someone to summarize the Second World War… and the rest is history). But not even that, it had become inconsequential … you can even hum to YouTube and in addition to telling you what song it is, it puts it on you.

Detroitmeter level : not too high, never really a big hit but rather a long-lived and metamorphic underdog in the jungle of the Internet.

Second life

Second Life
Second Life

Status: Open
Years of glory: 2007-2009

We have been hearing about the Metaverse for a long time, the virtual reality universe that Epic Games aspires to and for which it is looking for millionaire investments … and this reminds us of the Internet grandparents of Second Life. Linden Lab’s online metaverse arrived too soon? Would it have been everything you expected it to be if it had been born with virtual reality already in place instead of in the first decade of the century? We may never know.

Launched in 2003, we all began to hear the name of Second Life in 2007: a virtual world like MMRPGs but in which you did not play but, behind your avatar, you lived : you bought, you sold, you went to concerts, you had dates… you could even go to political rallies like the one that Gaspar Llamazares gave which was attended by a whopping 90 residents in Second Life.

And just as quickly as it entered our lives, Second Life was gone. From 2008 until now, although Linden claims they have a million monthly users, we only hear about Second Life because of the rather extreme sexual habits of some of the residents.

For several years there has been talk of a Second Life 2 . Does it have something to do with the commented Spaces? Will OASIS (the virtual world of the novel ‘Ready Player One’ ) come true? We better not throw the bells flying, really.

Detroit meter level : it is clear that it is very high. The competition is tough but the truth is that Second Life is a finishing touch to this article that has been an intense journey through the semi-forgotten history of the Internet.

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