Breaking: MySpace Backlash Sighted In Mainstream Media!

Posted by: Jon Fine on September 15, 2006

PC World publishes list of 25 Worst Web Sites. As always when these lists are done in a halfway decent manner, the article is well worth wasting fifteen minutes on.

So what’s at #1, topping the likes of boo.com, flooz.com, the unbelievably annoying spyware trojan horse Bonzi Buddy and bidforsurgery.com?

Let’s let the editors tell it, because if you subtract 10% of the annoyed-grandpa tone (and the way they have to play the sexual predator card) they’re on to something:

Yes, we know. With more than 90 million users, MySpace is now more popular than Elvis, “American Idol,” and ice cream. But the Web’s most visited destination is also its most poorly designed and counterproductive.

The ease with which anyone of any age can create a page, upload photos, share deeply personal details of their lives, and make new “friends” quickly turned MySpace into a one-stop shopping mall for online predators. That in turn has made the site an easy target for politicians who pander for votes by playing on parental fears. In an era when the basic tenets of the Net are under attack by both Ma Bell and Uncle Sam, MySpace is a headache we don’t need.

But let’s put all that aside for a moment. Graphically, many MySpace pages look like a teenager’s bedroom after a tornado—a swirl of clashing backgrounds, boxes stacked inside other boxes, massive photos, and sonic disturbance. Try loading a few of those pages at once and watch what happens to your CPU. Watch out for spyware, too, since it turns out that MySpace has become a popular distribution vector for drive-by downloads and other exploits. And in a place where “U are soooooooo hot!!!” passes for wit, MySpace isn’t doing much to elevate the level of social discourse.

In response to a public backlash and some well-publicized lawsuits, MySpace has begun modifying its policies—for example, limiting adults’ ability to contact minors. That’s hardly enough. Requiring some kind of authentication from MySpacers—or their parents—to validate their ages and identities would go a long way toward scaring off the creeps and making the site a kinder, gentler social network.

Is MySpace totally bad? Not at all. Are we old farts? Yeah, probably. But the Web’s most popular site needs a serious security reboot. And probably a makeover. Until then, MySpace won’t ever be OurSpace.

Reader Comments

dan tynan

September 15, 2006 5:25 PM

hey jon:

thanks for the shout out, I appreciate it. glad you liked the article enough to spend 15 minutes on it. I had fun writing it.

cheers,

dt (aka the 'annoyed-grandpa')

Don

September 18, 2006 11:01 AM

Adult's impression of what MySpace is- there's no "there" there, the pages are awful, the content is drivel- is not the point of MySpace. Adults entirely miss the point of it. It's the existance of a teenager's room on the web, in a world that teenagers feel the can't control, period, style and content be damned. They aren't educated enough to create quality content or design. It's not a newspaper, it's a cellphone. It's not a resume, it's a television. It's not a listserv email list, it's a t-shirt.

Too Old

September 18, 2006 11:57 AM

Don is correct... Criticizing the way Myspace looks is like criticizing the music teenagers listen to. It's not meant for adults, in fact the kids dont even want you looking at it. That is why kids are moving to a new social networking site.

Alma

September 18, 2006 12:27 PM

It wasn't like that before. Kids weren't on that site, the web pages didn't have all that mess that kids put on their bedroom walls. I canceled my acct as soon as it got sold and it went CORPORATE.

Keith Kamisugi

September 18, 2006 4:45 PM

For many users, MySpace is what it is: A fun distraction. I've learned about a number of talented comedians and musicians on the site. I avoid the garbage on people's pages by using the Adblock extension for Flock and Firefox.

Don

September 19, 2006 11:24 AM

What IS true is that for online advertising MySpace is the winner and OfficePirates is the loser. I believe that middle-aged investors looking for ad revenue can quickly gain some market competitiveness by employing a revolving stable of blogs or Web 2.0 community sites. The power is not in starting a new google, but creating a portfolio of partnerships. You can buy a house and rent it out to one person and it may lay unrented for months or you can buy an apartment building and rent out most of the units every month. However, under no circumstances, should C-Levels or over-30s try to affect the sites or their look and feel. What we're witnessing is a 1966 Los Angeles vs 1966 san Francisco. Sure in 1965, the Los Angeles scene (Byrds, Father Yod, Laurel and Topanga Canyon communes) was much more interesting, but eventually it was deemed "Phony" (see Zappa's lp "Freak Out") and the creatives moved to San Fran prior to 1967, creating the Be-Ins, Happenings and other proto-hippy concepts that are less well-known than the summer of love only because YOU HAD TO BE THERE. When hippies talk about the 1960s it doesn't make sense because we were never there. Well, when it comes to using facebook in a dorm, I'm NOT there and neither is our CEO.

Business owners should learn to respect these organic arrangements for hit-and-run profits. The web has a Digg, a Slashdot, a MySpace, a delicious, a flickr and a youtube. These have the signs and signifiers that the kids today look for. I confidently believe that it is impossible for someone over 30 to communicate to someone who is 21 with every single one of the same attitudes that make their culture different from ours. Unless business wants to throw millions at these projects every few years when ideas change, they should look at how major record labels worked in the 1990s- investing in and buying percentages of independent companies or artists, making money off that scene run by existing hipsters, then getting out.

Until then, MySpace looks alien and as adults we feel uncomfortable in their presence.

Finn

September 19, 2006 4:50 PM

If we're going to bring up the 1960s, let's look at an early copy of Rolling Stone (or the like) vs. the pages on Myspace. I was able to "express myself" in my teenage day by writing some damned good satire of my high school classmates' actions - without putting together a "webpage" that if you look at the majority of myspace sites, is nothing more than a bunch of recycled quizzes and garbage. It's about as "individual" as a McDonald's cheeseburger.

Myspace is making teenagers - not to mention the 21+ people who visit it and follow suit to fit in - dumber.

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