Pete Green: “I don’t have a MySpace, because MySpace fucking sucks.” ADLTS obviously.
In recent years networking sites like MySpace and Facebook have seen remarkable growth and become some of the most heavily trafficked destinations on the internet. But Danah Boyd, a researcher at the University of California and internet sociologist, says populations of different networks are now divided on a rough class basis.
Her evidence, collected through a series of interviews with US teenagers using MySpace and Facebook over the past nine months, shows there is a clear gap between the populations of each site.
“MySpace was the cool thing for high school teens and Facebook was the cool thing for college students,” she wrote in a paper available online. “The picture is now being blurred … it seems to primarily have to do with socio-economic class.”Typical Facebook users, she said, “tend to come from families who emphasise education and going to college. They are primarily white, but not exclusively”. MySpace, on the other hand, “is still home for Latino and Hispanic teens, immigrant teens” as well as “other kids who didn’t play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm”.
“A month ago, the military banned MySpace but not Facebook. This was a very interesting move because there’s a division, even in the military. Soldiers are on MySpace; officers are on Facebook.”
According to Ms Boyd, Facebook is not used by young soldiers, who are generally less well-educated and from poorer backgrounds, and there is an element of social conflict in the ban.
So, MySpace is Facebook for the uneducated?
Apparently MySpace has jumped the shark, with the number of page hits dropping 4% in September. News Corp say it’s a normal seasonal variation. I’m skeptical of that explanation, as us old-timers know that September is when all the students go to college, jump on their fast college-provided Internet connections, and post tons of crap on the net. Of course, now we have Eternal September, but many sites still see a noticeable uptick in traffic that month.
Anyway, if MySpace is dying, it’s not a moment too soon. Why do I hate MySpace? Well, let’s see…
For starters, it’s owned by News International, Rupert Murdoch’s company, the same corporation that gives us FOX News. If there’s a corporation I’d less like to trust with my personal data, I can’t think of it.
Then there’s the design. Ye ghods, it’s like Geocities rose from the dead and shambled onto my browser window.
Then there’s the functionality. In a way, it’s genius marketing. Someone obviously sat down and put together a list of exactly the functions that would encourage self-obsessed teenage drama queens to adopt the site as quickly as possible:
Picture of person, interests, personal data at the top, as that’s the most important thing in the world. After all, we’re marketing to the people who start chat conversations with “A/S/L?”
A lie at the top of the page saying “<insert name here> is in your extended network” no matter who it is, to try and sucker people in.
Under that, a section boasting how many friends the person has.
A “top 8 friends” feature, to guarantee lots of drama.
Lock down all the content not on the front page, so you have to sign up even to read it.
Unsurprisingly, I’ve yet to see anyone link to anything worthwhile on MySpace. It makes LiveJournal look like Granta, it’s the toilet stall wall of the Internet. “JUDY UR THE BESTEST LUV U LOL!!” “<insert band name> ROCKS!” “FRIEND ME!”
So no, I don’t have a MySpace page. I will never have a MySpace page.
Now here’s a funny thing: state agencies are now using the “PATRIOT” Act to obtain private profiles from web sites such as facebook.com, for people applying for any state-related job.
In other words: don’t count on your “friends only” or “private” postings not ending up in the hands of any government organization that takes an interest in you.
While this example involved Facebook, I’d put money on other social networking sites doing the same and handing over your data with no questions asked—including LiveJournal, Yahoo, Orkut, MySpace and so on.