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MySpace
MySpace.com
MySpace logo

Typical MySpace profile (MySpace founder Tom Anderson's profile shown here)
URL http://www.myspace.com/
Commercial? Yes
Type of site Social network service
Registration Required
Owner News Corporation
Created by Tom Anderson

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[1] and the third most popular website in the United States, though it has topped the chart on various weeks[2] (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[2]. It has become an increasingly influential part of contemporary popular culture, especially in the Anglosphere. The company employs 300 staff[3], 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[4] and a news story claiming 106 million accounts on September 8, 2006[5], the site reportedly attracts new registrations at a rate of 230,000 per day.[3]

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.

History

MySpace original logo.

MySpace original logo.

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.[6]

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).[7] In January 2006, Fox announced plans to launch a UK version of MySpace in a bid to "tap into the UK music scene"[8] 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.

 

Friend Space

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.

 

Comments

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.

 

Profile customization

MySpace allows users to modify their user pages. Although JavaScript is not 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.

 

MySpace features

 

Software

The company's servers are all running Microsoft-IIS 6.0 on the Windows Server 2003 OS.[9]

 

Bulletins

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 [citation needed]. Bulletins are deleted after ten days.

 

Groups

MySpace has a Groups feature which allows a group of users to share a common page and message board.

 

Language editions

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).

 

MySpace Mobile

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.[10] Additionally, UIEvolution is currently developing a mobile version of MySpace for a wider range of carriers.[11]

 

Criticism

 

Accessibility

Since most MySpace pages are designed by individuals with little HTML experience, few pages satisfy the criteria for valid HTML laid down by the W3C[2][citation needed] 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.[12]

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 [citation needed].

 

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[citation needed].

 

Security

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 removed[citation needed].

MySpace allows registering users who are as young as 14.[13] 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,[14] 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.[citation needed]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.[15]

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.[16] 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.[17] However, these restrictions only work if users are honest about their age. Some 3rd party Internet Safety companies like Social Shield[18] 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.[19]

 

Musicians' rights and MySpace Terms of Use Agreement

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.[20] 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".

 

Blocking

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".[21] A Catholic school in New Jersey has even prohibited students from using MySpace at home, although experts questioned the legality of such a ban.[22] 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.[23] The school claimed that this action was made to protect its students from online predators.[24]

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.

 

Legal issues

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.[25]

 

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[26], "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.[27]

Since then YouTube has become one of the fastest-growing websites on the World Wide Web,[28] outgrowing MySpace's reach according to Alexa Internet.[29] In July 2006 several news organizations reported that YouTube had overtaken MySpace.[30]

 

Other

  • On August 8, 2006, search engine Google signed a $900 million deal to provide a Google search facility and advertising on MySpace.

Click here to enter in Myspace




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