Friendster Was Its Own Worst Enemy; MySpace Faces External Threats

Danah Boyd, a Ph student at UC-Berkely and a social media researcher at Yahoo, thoughtfully compares Friendster and MySpace, explaining why she believes the former has faltered and the latter could continue to thrive but might be thwarted by “moral panic.” She calls for everyone in the social technologies area — including MySpace competitors — to recognize that the industry is at risk from legislation and regulation. Boyd: “If the moral panic over MySpace succeeds and causes a change in law (which it is looking like it will), everyone invested in social technologies will lose.”

— Boyd also drives home the very real, major differences between the two sites, including the personalities at the top. “People were hanging out on Friendster before they hung out on MySpace. But hanging out on Friendster is like hanging out in a super clean police state where you can’t chew gum let alone goof around and you’re told exactly how to speak to others. Hanging out on MySpace is more like hanging out in a graffiti park with fellow goofballs while your favorite band is playing. That said, there are plenty of folks who don’t want to be hanging out in a graffiti park and they are not sticking around on MySpace as a result.”

What she doesn’t address is News Corp.’s role as the owner of MySpace and how increased commercialization might affect the site’s future.