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The MySpace purge

March 31, 2006

This just in: The inmates will not be running the asylum. The Financial Times reports this morning that MySpace, a division of media giant News Corp, has kicked some 200,000 "friends" off the site for posting objectional material:

Ross Levinsohn, head of News Corp’s internet division, said some of the material taken down contained “hate speech”. Some of it, he said, was “too risqué”. “It’s a problem that’s endemic to the internet – not just MySpace,” Mr Levinsohn said. “The site, in the last two months, I think has become safer.”

But even as MySpace cleans up the site in reponse to pressure from "teachers and parents," News Corp president Peter Chernin says, “We do not want users to have any sense that it is corporatised.” That's going to require a tricky balancing act and, I would think, a narrower definition of the site's target audience.


My college age daughter and her pals all over the country love MySpace. She has an entire speech as to why the sole competitor, faceplace(?) sucks. As to cleaning off 200,000 accounts, as a computer consultant I wonder what they found objectionable and what their process was for discovering the objectionable material. I can't imagine that they have to staff to read over 200,000 accounts even if they were all located using filters or scripts. It doesn't sound realistic.

Posted by: Michael Drips at March 31, 2006 10:03 AM

Didn't they have a previous purge of pets, imaginary people, brands, etc.? Personally I think they could have done better to segment their site. Several definable "social groups" have all gained critical mass on MySpace. Groups such as kids, teens, sexual, etc. Most feel that these groups can't coexist normally, so rather than just kicking them off enmass, why not segment them. Let them connect easily among groups of their peers and make it harder for people to connect to dissimilar people. An example, If someone who was sexual on their page wanted to connect to a kid the connection could be put up for review and approved by multiple parties before such a connection was allowed. Obviously, this would take a lot of adminstrative work so here's a solution. Have the community police itself. Send any cross segment connection requests to other MySpace members, somewhere between 5 and 10. Preferrably from several different segments. If they have no problem with the connection and sign off on it than it goes through. This way children would have a much more difficult time connecting with sexual people. They wouldn't intrude on each others space as often.

Just some thoughts...

Posted by: Aaron deOliveira at March 31, 2006 12:15 PM

Deleting accounts in a step - fatherly, I shalt control your destiny and what thy shalt say is never good idea. I don't think it adds to the popularity of MySpace.

High handed corporate approaches cannot be veiled as being in public interest. This looks more like it is serving Rupert Mudroch's personal agenda.

Posted by: Srihari at March 31, 2006 02:34 PM

Doesn't 200k accounts equal about 1-2 days worth of new accounts?

Posted by: Al Chang at March 31, 2006 05:04 PM

Too bad they couldn't figure out a way for myspace to self monitor. With all their usage data I can think of a couple ways to filter and remove bad accounts. The problem is that it could never be guaranteed - 100%, and myspace would have to change their business model to be more user-centric and trust their users, a lot more than they do now, for it to work.

Posted by: Eric N. at March 31, 2006 09:59 PM

Your "AgeSpace" idea is kind of interesting, Aaron. I think something along those lines, mandatory for minors and voluntary for others will be a part of the ultimate solution to MySpace's "problem".

This problem is partly (as Levinsohn suggests) that MySpace is on the internet, where (absent controls) many people will make astoundingly poor behavior choices.

The second problem: the fact that a significant part of their audience are minors will keep the fires hot under them. However, I submit that MySpace WILL NOT raise their minimum age to 18. Murdoch et al bought the site (IMO) precisely FOR the 14-18 demographic. Having that level of access to children in the years they form brand associations is a plum to juicy fo them to part with.

Posted by: farlane at April 3, 2006 06:14 AM

This scares the shit out of me. I have subversive material on my MySpace page. I use it to publish my writing.And I'm obsessed. I would be very upset if they deleted it.

Posted by: Nick "Cynical but Fun" at April 6, 2006 03:14 PM

For someone who was stalked (yes, stalked) on myspace by a psychotic girl who set me daily hate mail, stole my photos off my profile and defaced them...Oh wait, why am I putting this is past tense?!?? It's STILL happening...

I'm a 23 year old female who was minding her own business when I got my very own myspace stalker. Despite myspace's apparent rules and regulations, the fact that I mark all of this girl's emails as "spam" and have complained about her theft of my photos and her harrassment, myspace has done nothing.

I recently found my 12 year old nephew's profile on it...as well as my 15 year old niece's profile. If someone started attacking them, I'd like something to be done about it. But knowing that myspace is actually quite unresponsive... well, it's pretty alarming.

Purging 200,000 profiles? Good for them. Myspace is a zoo.

Posted by: minimo at April 13, 2006 06:32 PM

I can sympathize with Minimo, only my situation is a bit reversed. You see, I have been accused to stalking a former friend via the internet and threatening to kill her.

Naturally, I have never done or wanted to do such a thing, but I did have myspace delete my first account after she started sending in emails "reporting" me. They usually delete first and ask questions later which was a problem there for a while.

Since my first acct got deleted I emailed them to inquire what prompted the deletion. They replied (yes a shocker) that my acct had been deleted because someone reported it as "explicit"...tell me how posting pics of my life in Paris (completely G-rated pics of me infront of monuments) was "explicit"? They apologized upon reviewing the cached acct on the net and let me know that they would NOT take any of her recent complaints about my site seriously.

Since then she has resorted to creating fake profiles of herself and claiming that I am doing it. She claims that I am stalking her but honestly I want nothing to do with psychotic girl and her drama. She is doing this all for attention which is pretty sad for this girl who calls herself "Vanilla-Bean" and claims that she is so much better than me etc. and that she has "moved on" which doesn't seem to be the case.

My advice? Be very selective about your friends list and make sure that you keep all important info (whereabouts etc.) private.

My stalker is a former friend who manipulates people into thinking that she is the victim and that I have an obsession, when in reality SHE is the one that won't leave ME alone. Its all very bizarre.

So far no one has bought the recent BS she has been trying to spread on the net. Be careful out there, even ppl you think are your friends can turn on you and claim outrageous things if you stop letting them walk all over you and being their "Yes-person".

I stood up for myself and got punished for it by her, her mother, and myspace in the beginning. Thankfully they are learning about her ways and multiple profiles and shutting them down as fast as she can create them.

Some people are truly pathological and dangerous. Myspace can be a breeding ground for these people to vent their hate, jealousy (in this girl's case) and feelings of insecurity to the rest of the world, and it just so happens that there are plenty of people who are willing to take advantage of those who mean well.

Posted by: PinkParisKitty [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 1, 2006 05:03 PM

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