Facebook, you just got poked by AOL

We just found a killer social media site: Has private log-ins, customizable pages, built-in instant messaging, friend invitations, and even news feeds.

It’s called AOL.com — back in February 2000.

We spoke today to a reporter for BusinessWeek and, while we won’t give away the story, one question revolved around who will win among today’s social media. It all reminds us of the portal game back in the 1990s, where sites such as AOL tried to control consumer access to the web by building “sticky” features. Today, Facebook and MySpace and other social nets are trying to control the one thing they really can, your connection to friends online. This single feature — not photos or video sharing or email, which is about all else social media does — is what makes Facebooks so appealing.

But what happens if the friend connection becomes a commodity? Charlene Li at Forrester predicted it. Google is working on it. When consumers finally become the center of their online relationships by controlling relationships with a utility as simple as your email, a lot of business models, and the advertisers who support them, may fade away.

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