• Members will be able to access over 10 million “memories” on the site
• Owner brightsolid has signed deals with The Press Association and photographic archive company Francis Frith to provide iconic nostalgic images
• Simple privacy settings put members firmly in control

brightsolid, the online publishing group, announced the launch of the new Friends Reunited today, as the place to celebrate those ‘Remember when?’ moments.

It’s not just old school …Friends Reunited, traditionally known for reuniting old school friends, has evolved to reunite members with every blast from their past. Capturing the magic of first rediscovering old classmates, the completely rebuilt site now encourages members to find, collect and share all of their most cherished memories; from heart-warming personal experiences shared with friends and family, to the national goose-bump moments we all enjoyed together. The new site is being launched as a beta version today.

Through the power of iconic images, users will be transported back to some of their favourite moments, including The Silver Jubilee in 1977, or Freddie Mercury’s career-defining performance at Live Aid in 1985. Using the unique “Keep” button, members can build and add to their own nostalgic collections - saved in online boxes - from the events, places, and moments they discover and share through the site.

Straightforward privacy is a cornerstone of the new service, allowing users to store their most personal memories (including old photographs, videos, scanned ticket stubs and other memorabilia) privately. They can also share those memories with a select few, or make them public.

Starting with 10 million publicly available memories from launch (including 6m photos, 2m events and 2m places), the site will span a vast range of eras and themes, with new collections being added to everyday by both Friends Reunited and its members. Via on-going partnerships with The Press Association and photographic archive company Francis Frith, Friends Reunited has added a further 350,000 high quality and evocative images, covering culture, sport, music, news and places.

Chris van der Kuyl, CEO of Friends Reunited’s parent company brightsolid, said: “We’re really excited about the opportunity to provide a uniquely nostalgic experience for the UK mainstream, that’s not only entertaining and engaging, but powerful and lasting too.

“Nowhere else can you find a single place to search, collect and save the bigger, more important moments in your life, memories which, in today’s digital world, are in danger of slipping through your fingers. We need to protect our precious and shared memories for longevity, which the new site enables you to do, or we’re at risk of becoming the lost generation.

“At brightsolid we have been at the heart of this drive to safeguard the nation’s history through our leading genealogy businesses genesreunited.co.uk, findmypast.co.uk and more recently with the British Newspaper Archive, launched in November last year in partnership with the British Library. The latter website is a unique treasure trove containing millions of pages from the British Library’s newspaper collection, featuring more than 200 newspaper titles from every part of the UK and Ireland published in the 18th and 19th centuries. Later 20th century editions of local newspapers and journals will also be added to Friends Reunited in the future.”

Friends Reunited was launched in 2000 as the first UK social network. The phenomenon then spawned sister sites Genes Reunited and Friends Reunited Dating, in 2003, the Group was bought by ITV in 2005 and the social networking site went free in 2008. In March 2010 online publishing and technology group brightsolid purchased the Friends Reunited Group from ITV and has integrated it into its portfolio of pioneering sites where people go to search their past, share their story and connect with people and places.

From launch, the new site will automatically create over 24.3 million “Family Boxes”, that’s one for each of the site’s existing members. Family boxes provide a dedicated place for families to share private memories within a small group and to begin discovering their personal history, with unique features like a mini family tree builder and surname definitions. Additionally, Friends Reunited has created over 10,000 nostalgic collections for people to enjoy browsing, ranging from “I Can’t Believe We Wore It!” to “Maggie Thatcher’s Britain”.

Brands can create their own memory boxes to celebrate and discuss their heritage with their customers and will shortly be able to purchase “Brand Boxes”, allowing bespoke branding, unique features and increased promotion.
Van der Kuyl commented: “Brands are increasingly emphasising their rich history as a way to gain trust and loyalty in a recessionary market. As a company built on nostalgia, we are in a great place to offer brands a way to exhibit this heritage in a visually compelling and entertaining way.”

Friends Reunited will encourage users to share what they remember using social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+, in combination with a Facebook app that shares your favourite memories with your Facebook friends.

ENDS

For further information, please contact:

Katie Hayward
Lansons Communications
katieh@lansons.com
Direct dial: 0207 294 3631
Mobile: 07809 441803

Carolynne Bull-Edwards
brightsolid
cbull-edwards@brightsolid.com
Mobile: 07932723866

Notes to editors

About brightsolid

brightsolid began life in 1995 as Scotland Online. It now has two divisions; brightsolid online publishing and brightsolid online technology. brightsolid online technology is a leading UK independent provider of online IT business services. brightsolid online publishing has a number of innovative online businesses around people and places including Friends Reunited and leading family history brands Genes Reunited, ScotlandsPeople and the findmypast global network.

The family history sites deliver access to over a billion records dating as far back as 1200. Family historians can search for their ancestors among global collections, relating primarily to people with UK and Irish ancestry, of military records, census, migration, occupation directories, and current electoral roll data, as well as birth, marriage and death records.

brightsolid was awarded The National Archives’ contract to digitize and publish online the 1911 census for England and Wales, which it launched in January 2009. Most recently, in November 2011, the online innovation group launched the British Newspaper Archive in partnership with the British Library, to digitize up to 40 million pages of historic newspapers over the next 10 years, providing a unique insight into major events and key periods of historical international interest.

Headquartered in Dundee, the company is owned by the publishers D.C. Thomson, and also has operations in Edinburgh, London, Dublin, Sydney and Los Angeles.

About Friends Reunited
Friends Reunited is the original social network with over 24 million members. Launched in 2000 as a back-bedroom hobby to put old school friends back in touch, it swiftly became a British media phenomenon. Today, the site has evolved to celebrate every blast from the past, becoming a central part of the brightsolid mission to safeguard the nation’s history.

Published on: 10:09AM on 2nd April 2012