Linden Lab announced it will shut down social network Avatars United on September 29th, less than a year after its ballyhooed acquisition. The purchase occurred at a time when Linden management was infatuated with social networking and had dreams of somehow transforming Second Life into the next Facebook. I'm not sure how acquiring a poorly designed, kludgy and sparsely populated vehicle like AU was supposed to get them there, but I suspect that a very low price tag had something to do with it. Anyway, its impending demise begs the question of what should come next. My answer is NOTHING!
Avatar identities are already all over social networking and media sharing sites. I personally participate in strong and active avatar communities on Plurk, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and Vimeo.So as far as I can figure, there is not much incentive for virtual world users to add another social network, especially one that is tied exclusively to a particular virtual world platform. We have it pretty good as it is.
My advice to Philip and company is keep improving the Second Life platform and leave social networks to the existing players. The weekly beta build schedule of the SL2x client is a promising start.