PROS / Orkut sends all mail and notifications to your Gmail account.
CONS / The user base inside the United States is extremely small.
VERDICT / Orkut has redesigned its service to appeal to a general crowd, but it's too little too late to reach American social network users.
Orkut was Google's first attempt at creating a social networking website. It started the service in 2004, but it never became successful in the U.S. The site is incredibly popular in Brazil and India and is currently being run by Google's branch in Brazil. This social media site keeps you signed in to your Google account automatically and gives you notifications if someone wants to instant message you or comments on your status updates. In the past few years, Orkut has been redesigned to resemble Google+, with a few exceptions. It has a very clean interface, but it's still a pain to navigate.
Groups are a great feature of Orkut. Because this service is largely intended for international crowds, you can find massive fan groups for Brazilian soccer teams. These communities are constantly updated, whereas, if you look for a community of American professional basketball fans, of the L.A. Lakers, for example, the most recent forum entry was more than three years ago. For North American Orkut users, the social networking will be outdated, and it may be hard to find new friends.
Orkut has a large number of features. Instead of a simple inbox for short messages that many social media sites have, Orkut sends any friend requests and comments to your Gmail inbox. You can also add scraps, which include things like YouTube URLs, widgets, photos, podcasts and more. Scraps are specifically for friends. Other people just browsing your account won't be able to see them. We found that most people use the scraps like comments on other social networking sites.
We like the specifics of Orkut's privacy options. You can specify which sections of your profile are visible instead of the usual blanket approach of everyone or just friends. Like many social network sites, you also have the ability to block users, report spam and report abuse. Additionally, you must be 18 to open an Orkut account, although we didn't encounter any explicit material while surfing the site.
Before Google found its bearings in social media, it experimented with Orkut. This social networking site took off in Brazil, but never here in the U.S. Since cleaning up its interface, it has become an accessible service. However, many people already have memberships with other top social networking sites and would sooner try out Google's more recent service.