Did Facebook Just Move to Kill Off Orkut?

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UPDATED: This past summer, Facebook moved past Orkut in India and now it appears poised to kill off the last bit of life in Google’s social network. According to Technolicious, Facebook has started offering users the ability to integrate and link their accounts with Orkut, so they can share updates, pictures, links, notes and events on the smaller social network. Facebook users will also be able to find Orkut users on the site. This could prove to be the beginning of the end of Orkut: by linking accounts, a user can now broadcast from Facebook and spend more time there while still staying connected to friends on Orkut. It’s basically an invitation to jump ship.

Orkut was overtaken in India by Facebook in July, and now has about 20 million users there compared to 21 million for Facebook. It retains a wide lead in Brazil, however, where it has 29 million users compared to Facebook’s 9 million. But in both countries, Facebook’s growth rate is much higher: it has grown by 479 percent in the last year in Brazil compared to 30 percent for Orkut, according to comScore.

It’s unclear if Google is participating in this integration effort. I can’t see why it would, frankly, since the venture seems designed to suck whatever life is left out of Orkut and convince its users to adopt Facebook instead. Orkut’s passing may not be that big a deal to Google if it’s planning on a bigger push via its new “social layer” effort — but it will just put more pressure on Google to figure out its social strategy if Orkut fades into oblivion. Meanwhile, some are speculating that problems with Facebook today might be tied to the Orkut integration.

Update: Facebook confirmed the Orkut integration is an app that has been offered to users in Brazil and India only and does not have the participation of Orkut. It just went live today and is aimed at helping people manage their accounts on both sites. A Facebook spokeswoman said there was no connection to the Orkut integration and reports of problems on Facebook today. The spokeswoman did not have any comment on the cause of those issues.

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