When MySpace Gets Too Big… the Rebellion Begins

The WSJ ran an article called MySpace, ByeSpace? discussing people opting-out of the online mega-social-network-portal. The report notes slowing growth and even a reported decline at some of the social networking sites. From the article:

After Ms. Thompson created a MySpace page two years
ago, she found herself sifting through dozens of requests daily from
would-be acquaintances seeking to link to her page. By early this year,
she’d amassed 4,000 such "friends," most of them strangers. Many
flooded her page with remarks like "omg" — shorthand for "oh my god"
— "you’re so beautiful." By June, Ms. Thompson, who resides in New
London, Conn., was sick of the comments and posted a farewell ode
before deleting her page:

"good bye myspace.I’ve always hated you.I just never had what it took to leave"

Ms. Thompson belongs to a fringe of Internet users now
renouncing MySpace and other social-networking sites — not in spite of
their popularity, but because of it.

And it backs it up with some data like a good newspaper should

Both MySpace and Facebook lost visitors in September, according to
Nielsen/NetRatings, a Web-tracking service. The number of unique U.S.
visitors at MySpace fell 4% to 47.2 million from 49.2 million in
August, and the number of visitors to Facebook fell 12% to 7.8 million
from 8.9 million.

Perhaps most predictably for social software sites with an invite/reply method, the article also notes the emergence of spam. Spammers affect software design. More specifically they kill open systems so the designer must focus on defending the user.

In this case I believe it literally indicates the future end of open requests.

There’s no question, however, that MySpace’s recent
popularity has brought with it a proliferation of spam that has annoyed
some users. Many advertisers take advantage of the "friend request"
function and send out requests that are really just advertisements. And
programs have cropped up that can automatically send mass friend
requests to MySpace users …

The guerrilla marketing has driven away James Kalyn, a
30-year-old technical writer in Regina, Saskatchewan. He kept receiving
friend requests from half-naked female strangers through his MySpace
page. Clicking on a request usually led to a profile that turned out to
be an ad for a pornography site. …

MySpace says it has incorporated technology to identify and block spammers.

That last sentence about "incorporating technology to identify and block spammers" – um…. that will NEVER work. Ever. It may limit them, reduce them, but it will not block them. If it did I would not have spam in my inbox, roaches in my garage and mosquitos in my back yard.

I have probably already quoted too much of the article. Go here and read the whole thing. It is worth the time if you work in software development or public relations. Social software is after all how much of the public can be reached after all.

My two cents – Social software in the future will be more like the flickr method where
someone adds you, but you have no obligation to add them and there is
no invitation. Don’t believe me? Ask your email administrator…

Thanks for the link Dan!