Path: the private social network


A few years ago I began to notice tweets of friends including an image with the text: “Find me on Path!” followed by a username and, for example, “7 moments”. Straight away I recognized this had to be a new social media network. Enthusiastically I navigated to the App store on my iPhone and downloaded the app.


As you may have found striking in the title of this post, Path is a private social network. What exactly does that mean? Founder of Path in 2010, Dave Morin, aimed to create an intimate social network where one could share photos and updates (“moments”) with a closed and small network of friends. In order to force users keep this social network private, Path allowed a user to have a maximum of 50 friends. The company began with an iPhone app and website, then gradually extended to offering the app to Android, iPad and Windows users.

“Our long-term grand vision here is to build a network that is very high quality and that people feel comfortable contributing to at any time.” – Dave Morin

After having used the app for about a week, I noticed that many of my friends weren’t actively using it and found it fairly boring. Regardless of the beautiful design and playful elements in the app, it just did not take off. The tweets attracting users started to diminish and after a couple of months I had forgotten that it had ever existed. Only today, the network got me thinking! What had gone wrong with Path? Why did it fail?


After having done some research, I found that Path has changed considerably since their launch in 2010. In 2012, they were urged to increase the maximum number of friends from 50 to 150. They are also planning on developing new apps to enrich the platform and make it more similar to large social networks. Hence, focussing less and less on being a private network (Bhuiyan, J 2014).

In theory, the idea of having a private network with close friends and family sounds appealing to many people, however the “privacy” of the network is the main reason for its failure. Many people found that in practice, the app turned out to be highly limiting and boring. Many users struggled with the small reach compared to social networks as Twitter and Facebook. Isaac Budmen described the application as “woefully insubstantial in meaningful content” (Budmen, I 2012).  I found it interesting to discover that many people are not necessarily on social networks for their close friends and family, but mainly for everything beyond this.

Today, Path sees 4 million users per day, allows up to 500 friends and still promotes itself and individual profiles with the hashtag #thepersonalnetwork. With every app update, the app moves further and further away of the private network it was upon its launch. What do you think of the idea of a private social network? Would it appeal to you? What would you (not) miss compared to regular social networks? What do you seek for in a social network? Have you ever heard or used Path?

If you are interested in trying out the app it is still available in mobile app stores!


Bhuiyan, J. (2014). Path, The Personal Social Network, Battles To Be Popular Too. Available: Last accessed 1st Oct 2015.

Budmen, I. (2012). Path: Private Social Network with Good Interface, but Lacking in Substance. Available: Last accessed 1st Oct 2015.


3 thoughts on “Path: the private social network

  1. When I saw this post, I immediately thought: yes, I had the exact same thing! A couple of years ago it seemed like a nice new social platform. A lot of my friends were sharing their ”Find me on Path” on Facebook and I thought this would be a cool new platform to share photos and other things. It actually bored me after a few days already, because I didn’t seem to understand the basic features and none of my friends were posting a lot. I eventually completely forgot about it and never looked at it again. I think that the idea of a private social network seems very appealing to a lot of people, but in practice it’s actually quite limited. Because you were, in the beginning, only allowed to add 50 friends, there are not many daily posts. After a few minutes of scrolling, you run out of new things to see and it becomes boring to look at it any further. I think this is the main problem of Path. It is too private, só private that it becomes boring to look at it more than about ten minutes. The founders of Path have completely ignored the need of current social media users and therefore I think this platform is doomed to fail.

  2. When I finished reading this I searched”path social network” on twitter and I was extremely surprised with the amount of people saying its gone or that nobody uses it!
    I have been on Path for three years now and I have to assume that I use it everyday.. Post +10 moments a day and I have like +300 friends there that half of them uses it just like I do .. In my country Path had become popular this year or exactly at the beginning of 2014 .. To me it was a quit, nice place to share stuff with my friends and I’m noticing that me and most of my friends on path likes how different and private it is there ..
    I really really like Path and its my favorite social network

  3. I found it weird when I finished reading this and searched for tweets about ” Path social network” on twitter because Path is my -and my +200 friends on path- favorite social network and I have been using it everyday for the past three years with like +10 moments a fay and I actually love it and its idea and I feel comfortable sharing things there than I do on any other network, you may not believe this buy in my country Path is so popular that you hardly find people without the app on their phones

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