If you went to college in the late 1990s or early 2000s, there’s no doubt that you were at least aware of but more likely downloading music from Napster, with no regard for legality. One service you may not have been as familiar with was Wirehog, the Facebook file sharing service. It was a game changer.
Imagine if Facebook served as a peer-to-peer network, enabling you to browse the files of all the friends you were connected to on the site. It was incredible because despite wanting to download random songs from others, you really wanted to know which songs (and other files) your friends had. If you were hanging out with a friend in the dorms and a song that you liked was playing, you could just go back to your place and swipe the song from them over Wirehog.
Needless to say, the tool was pretty damn cool. While most Facebook users don’t remember the service, it was online until January of 2006 (according to Wikipedia). The best part of Wirehog was that you were downloading songs from trusted individuals, not from random people on the Internet (like those annoying music industry-powered servers that seeded Napster with fake songs).
According to David Kirkpatrick’s book, The Facebook Effect, Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t convinced that Facebook was a greater opportunity than Wirehog for a while. It’s understandable: Wirehog was sick! The only problem with the tool was that it was being used for illegal purposes. Since Wirehog probably would have suffered the same fate as Napster, the company killed the service in order to focus completely on Facebook, despite protests from Facebook’s CEO, who loved the project.
If you weren’t on Facebook “back in the day,” there’s no doubt that you never had the opportunity to use Wirehog. It was a killer product, rolled out at a time when Napster was getting saturated with phantom files. It probably would have become a great success but we can be grateful that the company decided to focus on Facebook instead! Were you a user of Wirehog?