Category: myspace

Experience: my face was stolen online:

I was clearing out an old email address a couple of years ago when I spotted a message from a woman I didn’t know. She had been talking to a man online and had become suspicious of his identity. When she did a search on his profile picture, my name came up. She sent me a link to a Google+ account that had my photo and somebody else’s name, but I couldn’t see much else. I had never been particularly strict with online privacy, so I thanked her and reported it to Google. It didn’t seem like a big deal.

Things got weirder when she invited me to join a Facebook group: 20 young women – who had all been talking online to a man called “Paul Green” – were trying to figure out his true identity. They were sharing his profile pictures and the photos he’d emailed them. They were all of me. He’d cropped my new baby niece out of a very recent photo. There was one of me from school, fooling around with a piano keyboard on my head; it was so old I’d forgotten it. It must have been from my deleted Myspace account.

He had talked to these women on teenage forums, dating sites, Facebook, Twitter, Google… and from multiple email addresses. Some had spoken to him on Skype – without video. One girl forwarded me email after email of their conversations. They had been talking for four years. They’d told each other, “I love you.” He said that – like me – he was 22. The young women ranged in age from mid-teens to early 20s. He’d talked of sending them gifts and persuaded some to send pictures back. One message read, “Thank you for those photos, my body shivered a little.” It was creepy.

He came across as intelligent. He liked poetry and literature, and spoke Spanish. He had gained their trust and some of them thought they were in a relationship with him. One said to me, “Oh, it was you we’ve been talking to.” But I had to say, “No. Not at all. These aren’t my interests. This is not me.”

I went to the police, but they weren’t interested. The law doesn’t cover you to protect your face…

Digital Human, Series 18, Episode 6: Faceless

Tom, U Up?: Contemplating a move back to MySpace:

There’s been a lot of talk among my actual friends and social media “friends” about leaving Facebook behind in favor of less data-breachy outlets. It’s hard to imagine people will want to spend time rebuilding their Facebook worlds on another platform, but I understand the impulse. We see less of our friends’ posts every day and more advertising — nevermind the whole accidental-toppling-of-our-democracy aspect of Mark Zuckerberg’s platform.

As I started seeing more “I’m logging off forever” Facebook posts, I evaluated whether one option might be a return to the start of my social media life, back before “social media” had a name. If I say goodbye to Facebook, might I once again say, “Hello, MySpace”?

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 1: Gentrification

Did Whites Flee the ‘Digital Ghetto’ of MySpace?:

Danah Boyd, author of the chapter, stirred up controversy once before, in 2007, by noting that during the period beginning in 2006 when teens began to flock to Facebook, teens’ preference for either MySpace or Facebook appeared to fall along lines of race and class.

Subsequent statistical analyses of the characteristics of users of online social networks by researchers, marketers and bloggers, she notes in her latest work, backed up her claims that white and asian teens who belonged to higher socieconomic strata (and who aspired to college, with which Facebook at the time was associated) were attracted to Facebook, while latino, black and working-class teens tended to opt for MySpace. Boyd notes in her chapter:

Analysts at two unnamed marketing research firms contacted me to say that they witnessed similar patterns with youth at a national level but they were unable to publicly discuss or publish their finding, but scholars and bloggers were more willing to share their findings.

Boyd’s current work argues that MySpace took on many of the aspects of a “digital ghetto” in the minds of teens who used the site, leading to “white [and asian] flight” from the site, analogous to the white flight from the city to the suburbs that took place in the U.S. beginning in the 1960’s. Boyd continues:

Consider the parallels. In some senses, the first teens to move to the “suburbs” were those who bought into a Teen Dream of collegiate maturity, namely those who were expressly headed towards dorm-­‐based universities and colleges. They were the elite who were given land in the new suburbs before plots were broadly available. The suburbs of Facebook signaled more mature living, complete with digital fences to keep out strangers. The narrative that these digital suburbs were safer than the city enhanced its desirability, particularly for those who had no interest in interacting with people who were different.

Boyd argues that MySpace’s inability to deal with spammers added to the feeling of urban blight that overtook the site, leaving derelict profiles “covered in spam, a form of digital graffiti… As MySpace failed to address these issues, spammers took over like street gangs.”

Subsequent media coverage of the “death of MySpace” was a direct result of this flight, says Boyd. For example, she cites a 2009 New York Times article that was entitled “Do You Know Anyone Still on MySpace?” despite the fact that at the time Facebook and MySpace has roughly equal numbers of users.

“The New York Times staff was on Facebook and assumed their readers were too,” concludes Boyd.

Intriguingly, the comments under that news item support Boyd’s thesis:

“My impression is that Myspace is for the riffraff and Facebook is for the landed gentry.”

“Compared to Facebook, MySpace just seems like the other side of the tracks – I’ll go there for fun, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

Boyd’s conclusion is that online environments are merely “a reflection of everyday life,” and that online communities are immune to the techno-optimist belief that the internet eliminates the deep divisions between people in real life. As Boyd notes in her own responses to earlier critiques of her work, this is either a controversial or an obvious thesis – what do you think?

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 1: Gentrification