MySpace is a social
networking website offering an interactive, user-submitted network of friends,
personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music, and videos. MySpace also
features an internal search engine and an internal e-mail system. It is
headquartered in Santa Monica, California while its parent company is
headquartered in New York City, and it also has a back up server there.
According to Alexa Internet, it is currently the world's fourth most popular
English-language website, the sixth most popular website in any language
and the third most popular website in the United States, though it has topped
the chart on various weeks
(note it is possible that other websites have a greater number of unique
visitors). The service has gradually gained more popularity than similar
websites to achieve nearly 80 percent of visits to online social networking
websites. It has
become an increasingly influential part of contemporary popular culture,
especially in English speaking countries. The company employs 300 staff,
is owned by News Corporation, and does not disclose revenues or profits
separately from News Corporation. With the 100 millionth account being created
on August 9, 2006
and a news story claiming 106 million accounts on September 8, 2006,
the site reportedly attracts new registrations at a rate of 230,000 per day.
MySpace is also home to various musicians, filmmakers, and comedians who
upload songs, short films, and other work directly onto their profile. These
songs and films can also be embedded in other profiles, an interconnectedness
which adds to MySpace's appeal.
Before the creation of the current social networking website, the myspace.com
domain name was already registered in 1998 to a San Francisco-based online
storage and file sharing firm. Registration was free and users were able to
obtain a small disk quota which would gradually increase if they referred new
members to the site. Due to slow service and a lack of revenue, the original
website shut down and sold all of its users' information in 2001.
The current MySpace service was founded in July 2003 by Tom Anderson (an
alumnus of both the University of California, Berkeley and the University of
California, Los Angeles), the current president and CEO, Chris DeWolfe (a
graduate of University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business),
and a small team of programmers. It was partially owned by Intermix Media, which
was bought in July 2005 for $580 million by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation
(the parent company of Fox Broadcasting and other media enterprises).
In January 2006, Fox announced plans to launch a UK version of MySpace in a bid
to "tap into the UK music scene"
which they have since done (see MySpace International). They also plan to
launch in China, Japan, and even in the Middle East.
Contents of a MySpace profile
Blurbs, Blog, Multimedia
Profiles contain two standard "blurbs": "About Me" and "Who I'd Like to Meet"
sections. Profiles also contain an "Interests" section and a "Details" section.
However, fields in these sections will not be displayed if members do not fill
them in. Profiles also contain a blog with standard fields for content, emotion,
and media. MySpace also supports uploading images. One of the images can be
chosen to be the "default image," the image that will be seen on the profile's
main page, search page, and as the image that will appear to the side of the
user's name on comments, messages, etc. MySpace has also added the option to
upload videos via the MySpace Videos service, that are played via a standalone
The User's Friends Space contains a count of a user's friends, a "Top
Friends" area, and a link to view all of the user's friends. Users can choose a
certain number of friends to be displayed on their profile in the "Top Friends"
area. The "Top Friends" used to be restricted to eight friends. People bypassed
this limitation by using third-party tools to emulate a "Top X" friends.
Currently, MySpace allows 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, or 24 friends to be displayed in the
"Top Friends" area.
Below the User's Friends Space (by default) is the "comments" section,
wherein the user's friends may leave comments for all viewers to read. MySpace
users have the option to delete any comment and/or require all comments to be
approved before posting. If a user's account is deleted, every comment left on
other profiles by that user will be deleted.
allowed, HTML/XHTML and CSS can be used to change the vast majority of the
profile to the user's preference. Users also have the option to add embedded
music into their profiles via MySpace Music, a service that allows bands to post
songs onto their respective profiles. Videos, flash-based content, and almost
anything else can be added, much like a standard HTML page. Since many users of
MySpace do not know HTML, third-party code generating websites have appeared to
help these users.
The company's servers are all running Microsoft IIS 6.0 on the Windows Server
Bulletins are messages that are sent out to everyone on a MySpace user's
friends list. Bulletins can be useful for notifying an entire friends list,
without resorting to messaging users individually. Some users choose to use
Bulletins as a service for delivering chain messages and surveys
. Bulletins are deleted after ten days.
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MySpace has a Groups feature which allows a group of users to share a common
page and message board.
Since early 2006 MySpace has offered the option to access the service in
different regional versions, much like Google and other search engines. In
reality the user is currently directed to their "local" site irrespective of
attempts to explicitly choose another. These options offered are: Global site,
Australia, France (currently in beta), Germany (currently in beta), Ireland, UK,
and US (although this is in fact identical to the "global" site).
The alternative regional versions present automated content according to
locality (e.g. UK users see other UK users as "Cool New People", and UK oriented
events and adverts, etc.), offer local languages other than English, or
accommodate the regional differences in spelling and conventions in the
English-speaking world (e.g. United States: "favorites", mm/dd/yyyy; the rest of
the world: "favourites", dd/mm/yyyy).
American mobile phone provider Helio released a series of mobile phones in
early 2006 that can utilize a service known as MySpace Mobile to access and edit
one's profile and communicate with, and view the profiles of, other members.
Additionally, UIEvolution is currently developing a mobile version of MySpace
for a wider range of carriers.
Since most MySpace pages are designed by individuals with little HTML
experience, few pages satisfy the criteria for valid HTML laid down by the
which can cause accessibility problems when visiting many user pages.
Furthermore, MySpace is set up so that anyone can customize the layout and
colors of their profile page with virtually no restrictions, provided that the
advertisements aren't covered up by CSS or using other means. As MySpace users
may not be skilled web developers, this can cause further problems. Poorly
constructed MySpace profiles could potentially freeze up web browsers due to
malformed CSS coding, or as a result of users placing many high bandwidth
objects such as videos, graphics, and Flash in their profiles (sometimes
multiple videos and soundfiles are automatically played at the same time when a
profile loads).PC World magazine cited this as its main reason for naming
MySpace as #1 in its list of 25 worst web sites ever.
In addition, new features have been gradually added. This, and the increasing
number of MySpace members, leads to an increase in used bandwidth. This increase
in usage sometimes slows down the servers and may result in a "Server Too Busy"
error message for some users who are on at peak hours, "Sorry! an unexpected
error has occurred. This error has been forwarded to MySpace's technical
group.", or a variety of any other error messages throughout the day
MySpace and professionalism
The Chicago Tribune's RedEye printed an article concerning MySpace and
an individual's search for employment. It was argued that young college
graduates compromise their chances of starting careers because of the content
they post onto their profiles. For instance, a visitor does not need an account
to browse for users using information that is readily available on resumes and
applications, such as a postal code and age. A potential employer can utilize
information provided by the applicant on MySpace's search engine. Thus, the
employer may not hire a highly qualified candidate because he or she maintains
an account suggesting rambunctious behaviour. Moreover, employees were said to
be putting their careers at risk because they maintain blogs that criticize
their respective companies and organizations .
MySpace allows registering users who are as young as 14.
Profiles with ages set to 14 to 15 years are automatically private. Users whose
ages are set at 16 or over have the option to restrict their profiles,
and the option of merely allowing certain personal data to be restricted to
people other than those on their friends list. Accessing the full profile of or
messaging someone under the age of 16 is restricted to a MySpace user's direct
friends only if the account is set to 'private'.
Republican Pennsylvania Representative Mike Fitzpatrick has also introduced
controversial legislation (H.R.5319) to ban usage of the site in public places,
such as schools and libraries, and to have the power to tap into usage of the
website in those places.
MySpace often has problems with profile identity theft. These are profiles
containing the pictures and sometimes information of someone else's profile.
These stolen profiles are commonly used to advertise websites. MySpace will
delete these profiles if the victim verifies their identity and points out the
profile via e-mail.
Recently, MySpace has been the focus of a number of news reports stating that
teenagers have found ways around the restrictions set by MySpace, and have been
the target of online predators. In
response, MySpace has given assurances to parents that the website is safe for
people of all ages. Beginning in late June 2006, MySpace users whose ages are
set over 18 could no longer be able to add users whose ages are set from 14 to
15 years as friends unless they already know the user's full name or email
address. However, these
restrictions only work if users are honest about their age. Some 3rd party
Internet Safety companies like Social Shield
have launched online communities for parents concerned about their child's
safety on MySpace.
In June 2006, a 14-year-old girl who says she was sexually assaulted by a
19-year-old user sued MySpace and News Corporation, seeking $30 million in
damages. In the same month, 16-year-old Katherine Lester flew to the Middle East
after having tricked her parents into getting her a passport in order to be with
a 20-year-old man she met through MySpace. US officials in Jordan persuaded the
teen to turn around and go home.
MSNBC has reported that MySpace is a "hotbed" for spyware, and that infection
rates are rising because of MySpace.
Until June 2006, there was a concern amongst musicians, artists, and bands on
MySpace such as songwriter Billy Bragg owing to the fine print within the user
agreement that read, "You hereby grant to MySpace.com a non-exclusive,
fully-paid and royalty-free, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense
through unlimited levels of sublicensees) to use, copy, modify, adapt,
translate, publicly perform, publicly display, store, reproduce, transmit, and
distribute such Content on and through the Services". The fine print brought
particular concern as the agreement was being made with Murdoch's News
Corporation. Billy Bragg brought the issue to the attention of the media during
the first week of June 2006.
Jeff Berman, a MySpace spokesman swiftly responded by saying, "Because the
legalese has caused some confusion, we are at work revising it to make it very
clear that MySpace is not seeking a license to do anything with an artist's work
other than allow it to be shared in the manner the artist intends".
By June 27, 2006 MySpace had lived up to their word and amended the user
agreement with, "MySpace.com does not claim any ownership rights in the text,
files, images, photos, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, or any
other materials (collectively, 'Content') that you post to the MySpace Services.
After posting your Content to the MySpace Services, you continue to retain all
ownership rights in such Content, and you continue to have the right to use your
Content in any way you choose".
Many schools and public libraries in the United States and the United Kingdom
have restricted access to MySpace because it has become "such a haven for
student gossip and malicious comments".
A Catholic school in New Jersey has even prohibited students from using MySpace
at home, although experts questioned the legality of such a ban.
In Autumn 2005 Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta Township, New
Jersey made headlines by forbidding its students to have pages on MySpace or
similar websites or face suspension.
The school claimed that this action was made to protect its students from online
On July 28, 2006, the United States House of Representatives passed a
controversial bill requiring libraries and schools receiving certain types of
federal funding (E-rate) to prevent unsupervised minors from using chat rooms
and social networking websites, such as MySpace. This bill, known as the
Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006 (DOPA), was approved by a 410-15 vote and
is pending approval in the United States Senate.
In May 2006, Long Island, New York teenagers Shaun Harrison and Saverio
Mondelli were charged with illegal computer access and attempted extortion of
MySpace, after both had allegedly hacked into the site to steal the personal
information of MySpace users before threatening to share the secrets of how they
broke into the website unless MySpace paid them $150,000. Both teens were
arrested by undercover Los Angeles police detectives posing as MySpace
Celebrities on MySpace
MySpace has led to the creation of MySpace celebrities, popular individuals
who have attracted hundreds of thousands of "friends", which may lead to
coverage in other media. The June 2006 issue of Playboy magazine, for
example, featured a "Women of MySpace" nude pictorial (though ironically, an
article somewhat critical of the website ran in the same issue). Through
MySpace, such people are able to distribute information regarding their
activities, events they are hosting, or projects they are working on (e.g.
albums or clothing lines). Though some of these individuals have remained only
Internet celebrities, others have been able to jump to television, magazines,
and radio. One example is Christine "ForBiddeN" Dolce's appearance on The
Tyra Banks Show.
Furthermore, MySpace's music section has helped many amateur bands progress.
One illustrative example is English band Arctic Monkeys, who owe some of their
success to the publicity that MySpace generated for them. When asked about the
popularity of the band's MySpace website in an interview with Prefix
magazine, the band pointed out that they did not even know what MySpace was, and
that their page had originally been created by their fans. It has been claimed
that Pop artist Lily Allen's new fame is also due in part to her being promoted
on MySpace but Lily herself denies this. In response to an interview question on
Triple J, Australia Lily stated,
"The way it's been portrayed in the media, is that you were almost like
discovered by MySpace; how accurate is that?" Lily responded "Not accurate at
all, I had a record deal before I set up my MySpace account so, erm, that's ...
couldn't really be further from the truth."
Rivalry with YouTube
YouTube first appeared on the web in early 2005, and it quickly gained
popularity on MySpace due to MySpace members who embedded YouTube videos in
their MySpace profiles. Realizing the competitive threat to the new MySpace
Videos service, MySpace banned embedded YouTube videos from its user profiles.
MySpace users widely protested the ban, prompting MySpace to re-enable the
feature shortly thereafter.
Since then YouTube has become one of the fastest-growing websites on the
World Wide Web,
outgrowing MySpace's reach according to Alexa Internet.
In July 2006 several news organizations reported that YouTube had overtaken
- On August 8, 2006, search engine Google signed a $900 million deal to
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