China’s Renren social network copies Facebook Timeline

Chinese social network Renren is rolling out a new profile that clearly copies the design and features of Facebook Timeline.

Since launching in 2005, Renren has always maintained a close look and feel to Facebook, from News Feed to profiles to mobile. The company also followed Facebook’s path from being only for students to available for everyone, as well as opening its platform to third-party developers. With Timeline, it seems that the similarities are more than surface level. Facebook UI engineer Stefan Parker, who worked on Timeline, said in a public comment on his profile, “It’s done exactly the same, floats, capsule balancing, everything. Even runs into scrolling perf issues when you load enough in and scroll while it balances.”

Facebook is currently blocked in China, and last week Facebook’s North Asia Director Jayne Leung told conference attendees in Hong Kong that the social network has no plans to expand into the country. In the meantime, Renren is continuing to grow, though its engagement numbers are not as strong as Facebook’s. Renren reported 45 million monthly active users in Q2, which is only 27 percent of its 162 million total activated users.

Renren’s timeline design began rolling out last month, though it is still in beta and not available to all users. As seen in photos from a promotional page about the new product, the social network has copied Facebook features such as cover photo and life events. Renren also created a Pinterest clone this year.

Interestingly, another Chinese social network L99.com was recently reported to be considering a suit against Facebook for infringing on its own timeline design apparently launched in 2008. L99.com CEO Xiong Wanli claims to have video evidence that Mark Zuckerberg attended a lecture he gave at Stanford where he unveiled the timeline layout.

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