Did You Know Barack Obama Had A Black Planet Page?

Black Planet logo

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For those of us who had a Black Planet page, the cheesy banners, the embarrassing bios and the less than stellar profile photos are remnants of a time when life and social media was simpler. Black Planet was a place where Black folks on the internet could come together and be ourselves.

Black Planet started in 1999, in the early days of the internet and social networking. Omar Wasow, BP’s founder, wanted to create a site specifically for Black people to connect. At the time, there were other social networking sites for other people of color like Mi Gente for Latinos and Asian Ave for Asian Americans.

Initially, Black Planet started as a dating site, but quickly evolved into a broader social networking site where Black people - no matter their age - could come and connect. After its launch, Black Planet quickly boomed and spread, largely by word of mouth.

By the height of its popularity in 2008, there were 20 million registered users - making it the fourth largest social media site on the internet. Even then-Senator Barack Obama had a Black Planet page during his first presidential campaign.

As times changed, Black Planet faced challenges in keeping up with faster growing new media sites. Newer platforms like MySpace and Facebook popped up and Black Planet struggled to compete. Black Planet added new features to compete with the new sites, like games and an activity bar, but it became difficult to keep users.

As Facebook grew in popularity, however, it owed some of its success to Black Planet. Wasow said that Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, told him he drew inspiration from Black Planet when he was developing Facebook.

Black Planet still exists, though. Not only is the site still up and running, it has a following of over 50,000 followers across Facebook and Twitter. They even have an app.

For those who had a Black Planet page, it’s hard to understate how important the site was for them. As we’ve carved out spaces for ourselves on Twitter (Black Twitter), Instagram and other social networking sites, none will ever “get us” quite like Black Planet. For all the embarrassing pictures and banners, it was a place for us by us.

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