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Social media, which now divides us, doesn’t have to, Hello founder Orkut Büyükkökten says

Büyükkökten, who started Google’s first social network, Orkut, says his new social app will help you make friends.

Courtesy Hello Network

Conventional wisdom holds that technology, and our addictions to it, are making us more isolated. But Orkut Büyükkökten says that’s wrong: Tech can actually make friendships easier, and we just haven’t found the right app yet.

“My biggest passions in life are people and connecting people through technology,” Büyükkökten said on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher. “If I look at society today, I believe that 99 percent of us need to connect more.”

Büyükkökten founded his first social network, Club Nexus, while he was a grad student at Stanford during the first dot-com boom. Its pre-Friendster success led him to Google, where he founded that company’s first social network, which was codenamed Eden but was ultimately named after him, Orkut.

However, Orkut “wasn’t ready to scale at launch” and only took off in a handful of countries like Brazil and Estonia. Now having left Google, Büyükkökten is back with a new social startup called Hello Network, which promises to make it easier to find new friends.

“If you look at humanity, it’s a complex network with 7.4 billion individuals,” he said. “We have such a huge need to connect and connecting is getting harder and harder, even though there’s a lot of technology that should enable us to connect easier.”

The problem with today’s social media sites, Büyükkökten argued, is that they reduce people to “highlight reels” rather than encouraging them to be authentic with one another.

“I could have two friends who are about to get divorced, but they would post a picture on Facebook where they are having a picnic happily,” he said. “I know it’s not real, and everyone who’s looking at it thinks that it is.”

“We create trust within each other by sharing,” he added. “We need to be able to share our true selves, and that’s how we dissolve the walls between us that separate us.”

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