MySpace Who?!

At first, after reading my classmates responses I was actually very curious to see what all the fuss was about regarding chatroulette. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately considering everybody seemed to be majorly spooked by the site) my computer won’t allow me on the site. Instead, I opted to check out 15 random MySpace profiles. Since I never really got sucked into the whole MySpace craze back in the days before Facebook revolutionized social networking and online media, I have to look at these profiles from a non-user distance, which somewhat limits what I can and can’t see. However, after glancing at my first few profiles, I’ve decided I’ve seen enough.

Like Facebook, each Myspace profile consists of a profile picture, personal photos tab categorized by albums, a friends tab, comments tab, and tabs for whatever else the user wants to make accessible via their MySpace page. Unlike the ever popular Facebook, the website’s layout is far less advanced in its aesthetic and technological nature. While there seems to be a place for all of the social networkers needs, it is obvious that the site has lost popularity in comparison to other sites.

Besides these few first observations, I poked around MySpace to see how it fits into the world of “technopanics.” For one, Facebook may be used by people of all ages today, but it’s important to remember that it started as a place for high school and college students to connect with one another via schools. I remember when Facebook has links to friend’s networks right at the bottom of the page. Although it has far out grown that phase of its life, something about the fact that Facebook started as a place for only students, made it feel much safer and exclusive. Today, Facebook could probably be grouped into the realm of technopanics with the rest of these creepy sites. I know I’ve gotten a message before on Facebook from a 60 year old man in India asking if I would like to join him on video chat before. Just because I have the option of ignoring him and denying his friend request doesn’t mean he is unable to find, and contact me. That’s what makes MySpace so scary as well. For some reason, almost every MySpace page I encountered included a picture that somebody took of themselves either in a mirror or held up from a distance whereas Facebook Profile Pages tend to be perfectly cropped pictures out of high quality photo albums using a “profile crop” option. As Marwick mentions in his article, “These claims about MySpace fall into two broad categories: first, that the site makes it easy for online predators to contact minors, and second, that social networking sites generally lower cultural expectations around privacy, encouraging children to expose more of their lives online.” To address some of those categories, I decided to do some profile searching. What separates MySpace from Facebook is FB’s “report” button that allows a viewer to report a picture they find inappropriate to a technical team at Facebook. They then take a look at the picture themselves and decided whether it should be removed or not. This is a feature MySpace doesn’t seem to have and due to this it makes it easier for users to post material that may be considered inappropriate and for “online predators” to find children who do so. However, with all the points Marwick explains make MySpace seem like a place for panic, after examining these profiles, I don’t see much of a difference from Facebook and as Marwick also explained, MySpace has made major strides to ensure the safety of its users.

All in all, yes this website is a “public forum” and yes it allows a lot of freedom to teenagers– maybe more than parents want to allow. But the truth is, if teens aren’t posting what they want, when they want on MySpace, Facebook or other social networking sites, they will undoubtedly find somewhere else to do so.

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