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The Rise and Rise of MySpace

Feeling left out because youíre not quite sure what MySpace is or what all the hype is about? John McCann, from takes a look at Myspace Phenomena.

For those not tuned in, MySpace is a type of social networking website. It offers an interactive network with content that is submitted by users. The site provides a venue for friends to post personal profiles, photos, blogs, music and videos. There is also an internal e-mail system as well as search engine. While you might not be familiar with the site it is currently ranked by Alexa Internet as the fourth most popular English-language website in the world and the sixth most popular site in any language. In the U.S., Myspace ranks at the third most popular website. As such it has become increasingly popular in both online and pop culture.

Considering the wide success and popularity of the site one might think it had been in operation for a long period of time. Quite the contrary; however. MySpace was founded in July of 2003 by a UC Berkeley alumnus, Tom Anderson as well as a group of programmers. Currently, MySpace is partially owned by Intermix Media whose parent company, News Corporation, is also the parent company of Fox Broadcasting as well as numerous other media enterprises. MySpace is headquartered in Santa Monica, California although the parent company is located in New York City.

There are two standard blurbs that users can post on MySpace. These standard blurbs include Who Iíd Like to Meet and About Me. There is also a Details section on profiles as well as an Interests section. Users can; however, choose whether they want to fill in these sections. Other information contained on profiles include a blog where users can post media, emotion and content. There is also the availability to upload images. Users can choose a default image, which is the image that will be seen on their profileís main page. This default image will also appear next to their comments and messages.

MySpace is based on a friendís network theory. A userís current number of friends on the site will be displayed and there is an option link where one can view all of a userís friends. Users can choose the number of Top Friends they want to be displayed. Up to 24 Top Friends can be displayed.

There is also a comments section where a userís friendís can display comments. These comments are available for all viewers to read; however, the user who created the profile can choose to delete or approve comments before they are posted if they wish. In the event a userís account is deleted all comments on that profile page will be deleted as well.

One of the features that many users like about MySpace is the ability to modify their own pages. JavaScript is not currently allowed; however, modifications can be made using CSS and HTML/XHTML. Users can also embed music into their profiles as well as flash-based content and videos. If a user does not know HTML, third-party code sites have made it much easier to modify profile pages by generating code that can be easily copied and pasted to the profile page.

Users on MySpace also have the ability to send out bulletins to all their friends on their friends list. This is a very user friendly feature that allows one to quickly update everyone without the need to message each one individually. After ten days the bulletins are deleted. There is also a Groups feature that allows groups of users to share a common message board and page.

In early 2006 MySpace added the option that would allow users to access services provided by the site in different regional versions. Options available include Global, France, Australia, Ireland, Germany, UK, U.S. and Japan. At the current time all versions except Global and Australia are in beta.

While MySpace is extremely popular with teens and young adults there has been a tremendous amount of controversy and even criticism over the site. In the fall of 2006 an article appeared on the gossip blog, Valleywag, alleged in detail that MySpace had originally been designed to serve as a spam delivery system. The article went on to state that MySpace had been intended to exploit Friendster. Other allegations in the article included the claim that Tom Andersonís status as founder of the site was only a public relations stunt and that in fact, Anderson had originally been hired as a copyeditor.

About the same time, Brad Greenspan (who had at one time served as CEO of Intermix Media, published a report claiming to be the true founder of MySpace and made requests for the SEC and U.S. Senate to look into the acquisition of MySpace by News Corp. According to Greenspan, MySpace should have been valued at billion instead of the 7 million that News Corp. valued it at. Greenspan, who had been the largest individual shareholder of Intermix Media, claimed that Intermix shareholders had been defrauded through the deal made at the time of purchase. Eventually the lawsuit filed by Greenspan challenging the acquisition of MySpace was dismissed.

There have certainly been other issues regarding the site. Some journalists have speculated that the content posted by young users on MySpace could eventually affect their future college and job search efforts. It is quite possible for prospective employers to browse the site and search for candidates they might consider interviewing using information that is readily available on any resume or job application. This leads to the speculation that it might be entirely possible for an otherwise very highly qualified candidate to be overlooked for a job due to questionable content they might have posted on the site. It has also been suggested that current employees might also be putting their own jobs at risk by posting material on blogs that is critical of their employers.

High school and college students may also have cause to be concerned regarding the content they post on MySpace as well. In a largely increasing number it has been reported that more and more colleges are keeping an eye on both prospective enrollees as well as current students by browsing MySpace. High school students who have their hearts set on getting into a particular college may find their chances reduced if a college admissions officer were to review and find questionable content or admissions to questionable behavior on an applicantís page, such as underage drinking. Likewise, current college students have begun to realize their participation in college activities could be restricted if sponsors happen to review the content posted on their sites and find it to be questionable.

There have also been numerous concerns regarding child safety issues on MySpace as well. Although the minimum age to register on MySpace is 14, it is certainly possible for a child younger than 14 to simply lie about their age and register an account anyway. Parents who discover their under-14 child has an account on MySpace can request the account to be removed. Userís who are under 16 will have their profile pages automatically set to private while users who are 16 and older can choose whether they want to restrict their profiles. Users are warned not to post any persona information on the site that could allow others to locate them and to be cautious regarding who they approve to be their friend on the site. MySpace has also taken steps to ensure the privacy and protection of minor users. One such step was enacted in June 2006 when MySpace entered a change so that users whose profile age is over 18 cannot add users to their friend list who are 14 and 15 unless they know that userís full name as well as e-mail address. After highly publicized news reports of some teenagers being sexually assaulted by pedophiles they met on MySpace, the site announced they were taking new measures to protect their minor users through the implementation of tools that would prevent known pedophiles from the U.S. from creating profiles on MySpace.

Still, the controversies over MySpace have led many schools, libraries and other public places to restrict or ban usage of the site. This has not deterred many users; however, as literally dozens of proxy sites have popped up all over the Internet making it possible for users to surf MySpace on the proxy site without being detected by firewalls meant to keep them off the site.

Despite the controversy regarding the site there is no doubt that MySpace is continuing to grow in popularity. Reports indicate that the membership of the site has bloomed to approximately 40 million members. For todayís youth, sites like MySpace offer a unique forum for communication much like any other generation has seen. While most adults continue to use phone calls and face to face meetings as a way to stay in touch and interact socially teens and young adults are becoming far more ambidextrous in terms of socializing online and offline.

In a world that is practically bombarded with multi-media choices, teens and young adults appear to have no difficulty accessing and using multiple forms of media at the same time. A large majority of tunes are quite comfortable watching their favorite television programs while at the same time rocking to tunes on their iPods as well as surfing the Internet simultaneously. This generation appears to have taken multitasking to a whole new level.

About the Author: John McCann is the Editor of Ė the best Myspace Resource Site on the Web. You can read more about Myspace at the Myspace Blog:


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