Typical MySpace profile (MySpace founder Tom Anderson's profile shown here)
|Type of site
||Social network service
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 the Anglosphere. 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
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
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).
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 Flash player.
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.
is not allowed,
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
The company's servers are all running
Microsoft-IIS 6.0 on the
Windows Server 2003
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.
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.
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
few pages satisfy the criteria for valid HTML laid down by the W3C
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
bandwidth objects such as videos, graphics, and
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
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
Originally MySpace was an adult only website. It did not contain adult
content, but it was intended for adults to meet each other. Profiles of people
that were suspected of being under age or freely admitted to it were deleted. As
the site grew it became harder to maintain this. Eventually the restriction was
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 18 is restricted to a MySpace user's direct
friends only. Republican
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
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
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
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 employees.
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
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
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
"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
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
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
Google signed a $900 million deal to provide a Google search facility and
advertising on MySpace.
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