Bulletins are posts that are posted on to a "bulletin board" for everyone on a MySpace user's friends list to see. Bulletins can be useful for notifying an entire, but usually a portion of the friends list (depending on how many friends are added), without resorting to messaging users individually. Some users choose to use Bulletins as a service for delivering chain messages about politics, religion, or anything else and sometimes these chain messages are considered threatening to the users, especially the ones that mention bad luck, death, or topics similar to that.They have also become the primary attack point for phishing. Bulletins are deleted after ten days.
MySpace has a Groups feature which allows a group of users to share a common page and message board. Groups can be created by anybody, and the moderator of the group can choose for anyone to join, or to approve or deny requests to join.
In early 2006, MySpace introduced MySpaceIM, an instant messenger that uses one's MySpace account as a screen name. A MySpace user logs in to the client using the same e-mail associated with his or her MySpace account. Unlike other parts of MySpace, MySpaceIM is stand-alone software for Microsoft Windows. Users who use MySpaceIM get instant notification of new MySpace messages, friend requests, and comments.
There are a variety of environments in which users can access MySpace content on their mobile phone. American mobile phone provider Helio released a series of mobile phones in early 2006 that can utilise a service known as MySpace Mobile to access and edit one's profile and communicate with, and view the profiles of, other members. Additionally, UIEvolution and MySpace developed a mobile version of MySpace for a wider range of carriers, including AT&T, Vodafone and Rogers Wireless.
In the month of April 2007, MySpace launched a news service called MySpace News which displays news from RSS feeds that users submit. It also allows users to rank each news story by voting for it. The more votes a story gets, the higher the story moves up the page.
Full service classifieds listing offered beginning in August 2006. Has grown by 33 percent in one year since inception.
Controversy over corporate history
Spam/Tom Anderson PR
In September 2006, a lengthy article written by web journalist Trent Lapinski, "MySpace: The Business of Spam 2.0", was published by the Silicon Valleygossip blog, Valleywag (a Gawker Media property). The article recounted a detailed corporate history of MySpace, alleging that MySpace was not organically grown from Tom Anderson's garage, but rather was a product developed by eUniverse aimed at overtaking Friendster, and that had initially gained popularity through an intensive mass internet campaign and not by word of mouth.Amongst other claims was the assertion that Tom Anderson had originally been hired as a copyeditor and his "founder" and "first friend" status was a public relations invention. Lapinski suggested that News Corp. had attempted to suppress the publication of the history by threatening his original publisher.
Brad Greenspan / The MySpace Report
In October 2006, Brad Greenspan (the former Chairman, CEO and largest individual shareholder of Intermix Media, who claims to be the true "founder of MySpace") launched a website and published "The MySpace Report" that called for the Securities and Exchange Commission, the United States Department of Justice and the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance to investigate News Corp's acquisition of MySpace as "one of the largest merger and acquisition scandals in U.S. history."The report's main allegation is that News Corp. should have valued MySpace at US$20 billion rather than US$327 million, and had, in effect, defrauded Intermix shareholders through an unfair deal process.The report received a mixed response from financial commentators in the press.An initial lawsuit led by Greenspan challenging the acquisition was dismissed by a judge.
Greenspan's report also states that the MySpace program code had originally been the brainchild of an Intermix/eUniverse programmer named Toan Nguyen who made the breakthrough technical contributions to the project.
Valleywag speculated that Greenspan was likely a key source for Lapinski's September article, "MySpace founder accuses company of defrauding investors of $20 billion."
To compound potential issues, MySpace has no customer service telephone number readily available for the public,and contacting them for help via any other available corporate phone numbers rarely yields substantial results.
Accessibility and reliability
Because most MySpace pages are designed by individuals with little HTML experience, a very large proportion of pages do not satisfy the criteria for valid HTML or CSS laid down by the W3C. Poorly formatted code can cause accessibility problems for those using software such as screen readers. The MySpace home page, as of December 27, 2007, fails HTML validation with 117 errors, using the W3C's validator.
Furthermore, MySpace is set up so that anyone can customise the layout and colors of their profile page with virtually no restrictions, provided that the advertisements are not covered up by CSS or using other means. As MySpace users are usually not skilled web developers, this can cause further problems. Poorly constructed MySpace profiles could potentially freeze up web browsers due to malformed CSS coding, or as a result of users placing many high bandwidthobjects such as videos, graphics, and Flash in their profiles (sometimes multiple videos and sound files are automatically played at the same time when a profile loads). PC World cited this as its main reason for naming MySpace as #1 in its list of twenty-five worst web sites ever.
In addition, new features have been gradually added (see featuritis). This, and the increasing number of MySpace members, leads to an increase in bandwidth used. This increase in usage often slows down the servers and may result in a "Server Too Busy" error message for some users who are on at peak hours, "Sorry! an unexpected error has occurred. This error has been forwarded to MySpace's technical group," or a variety of any other error messages throughout the day.
In October 2005, a flaw in MySpace's site design was exploited by 'Samy' to create the first self-propagating cross-site scripting (XSS) worm. MSNBC has reported that "social-networking sites like MySpace are turning out to be hotbeds for spyware", with "[i]nfection rates are on the rise, in part thanks to the surging popularity of social-networking sites like MySpace.com." In addition to this, the customization of user pages currently allows the injection of certain HTML which can be crafted to form a phishing user profile, thus keeping the myspace.com domain as the address. More recently, there has been spam on bulletins that has been the result of phishing.Users find their MySpace homepage with bulletins they didn't post, realizing later they had been phished. The bulletin consists of an advertisement that provides a link to a fake login screen, tricking people into typing in their MySpace e-mail and password.
In April 2007, a house in the United Kingdom was wrecked by gatecrashers storming a party after reading an invite for it on MySpace. The party caused an estimated £20,000-£25,000worth of damage, forcing the family to move out after graffiti was sprayed on walls and light fixtures were ripped out. Rachel Bell, the organizer of the party, claimed that her account was hacked and she only expected a small number of people to turn up. The resulting situation required several police cars and a dog-handling unit in order to restore peace.
The minimum age to register an account on MySpace is 14. Profiles with ages set to 14 or 15 years are automatically private. Users whose ages are set at 16 or over have the option to restrict their profiles and the option of allowing certain personal data to be restricted to people other than those on their friends list. Accessing the full profile of, or messaging someone when their account is set to "private" (or if under sixteen) is restricted to a MySpace user's direct friends.
MySpace will delete these profiles if the victim verifies their identity and points out the profile via e-mail.
Recently, MySpace has been the focus of a number of news reports stating that teenagers have found ways around the restrictions set by MySpace, and have been the target of online predators. In response, MySpace has given assurances to parents that the website is safe for people of all ages. Beginning in late June 2006, MySpace users whose ages are set over 18 could no longer be able to add users whose ages are set from 14 to 15 years as friends unless they already know the user's full name or email address. Some third party Internet safety companies like Social Shield have launched online communities for parents concerned about their child's safety on MySpace.
In June 2006, 16-year-old American Katherine Lester flew to the Middle East, to Tel Aviv, Israel, after having tricked her parents into getting her a passport in order to be with a 20-year-old man she met through MySpace. U.S. officials in Jordan persuaded the teen to turn around and go home.
In December 2006, MySpace announced new measures to protect children from known sex offenders. Although precise details were not given they said that "tools" would be implemented to prevent known sex offenders from the USA creating a MySpace profile.
In February 2007, a U.S. District Judge in Texas dismissed a case when a family sued MySpace for negligence, fraud and misrepresentation; a girl in the family had been sexually assaulted by a man she met through MySpace, after she had misrepresented her age as 18 when she was 13. Regarding his dismissal of the case, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks wrote: "If anyone had a duty to protect Julie Doe, it was her parents, not MySpace."
In July 2007, the company found and deleted 29000 profiles belonging to registered sex offenders.Hardline anti-pedophile organization Perverted Justice has praised Myspace for its efforts to combat pedophiles using their service.
In October 2007, a study published in the Journal of Adolescence conducted by Sameer Hinduja (Florida Atlantic University) and Justin W. Patchin (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire) concluded that most adolescents use MySpace responsibly: "When considered in its proper context, these results indicate that the problem of personal information disclosure on MySpace may not be as widespread as many assume, and that the overwhelming majority of adolescents are responsibly using the website," they say.
Social and cultural
Dave Itzkoff, in the June 2006 Playboy magazine, related his experiences of experimentation with membership in MySpace. Among his other criticisms, one pertains to the distance afforded by the Internet that emboldens members, such as females who feature photos of themselves in scant clothing on their profile pages or behave in ways they would not in person, and he indicated that this duplicity undercuts the central design of MySpace, namely, to bring people together. Itzkoff also referenced the addictive, time-consuming nature of the site, mentioning that the Playboy Playmate and MySpace member Julie McCullough, who was the first to respond to his add-friend request, pointedly referred to the site as "cybercrack". Itzkoff argued that MySpace gives many people access to a member’s life, without giving the time needed to maintain such relationships and that such relationships do not possess the depth of in-person relationships.
Furthermore, in terms of MySpace's potential for underhanded commercial exploitation, Itzkoff is particularly critical of the disturbing and fraudulent behavior of people who can contact a member, unsolicited, as when he was contacted by someone expressing a desire to socialize and date, but whose blog (to which Itzkoff was directed via subsequent emails) was found to be a solicitation for a series of commercial porn sites. Itzkoff is similarly critical of the more subtle commercial solicitations on the site, such as the banner ads and links to profiles and video clips that turn out to be, for example, commercials for new 20th Century Fox films. He also observed that MySpace’s much-celebrated music section is heavily weighted in favor of record labels rather than breakthrough musicians.
In relating criticism from another person, whom Itzkoff called "Judas," he illustrated that, while the goal of attempting to bring together people who might not otherwise associate with one another in real life may seem honorable, MySpace inherently violates a social contract only present when people interact face-to-face, rendering, in his opinion, the website nothing more than a passing fad:
“There will come a moment when, like deer quivering and flicking up their ears toward a noiseless noise in the woods, the first adopters will suddenly realize they’re spending their time blogging, adding, and gawking at the same alarming photos as an army of 14-year olds, and quick as deer, they’ll dash to the next trend. And before you know it, we’ll all follow.”
Many political organizations have created Myspace accounts to keep in touch with and expand their membership base. These range from larger organizations like Greenpeace and the ACLU to smaller locally focused environmentalist groups and Food Not Bombs activists.
Several historical political figures (from Napoleon to George Washington to Herbert Marcuse) have had accounts created to either raise awareness about their role in history or perhaps sometimes to behave more in jest as if those historical figures were actually posting messages and adding friends, etc.
Many hopeful 2008 presidential candidates have set up MySpace profiles, presumably in an effort to snare younger voters. Most profiles feature photos, blogs, videos, and ways for viewers to get involved with campaigning. MySpace features these politicians' profiles on its front page in the "Cool New People" section, on what appears to be a random rotation.
Activist group MoveOn.org has criticized MySpace, claiming that the website practices censorship by not showing anti-media ads, removing fake profiles for high-profile media executives like Rupert Murdoch, and allegedly attempting to force users away from using third-party flash applications on their profiles.
According to Alison Kiss, program director for Security on Campus, social networking websites such as MySpace and Facebook have made it easier for stalkers who target women on college campuses.
The Chinese version of MySpace, launched in April of 2007, has many censorship-related differences from other international versions of the service. Discussion forums on topics such as religion and politics are absent, and a filtering system that prevents the posting of content about Taiwan independence, the Dalai Lama, Falun Gong, and other "inappropriate topics" has been added.Users are also given the ability to report the "misconduct" of other users for offenses including "endangering national security, leaking state secrets, subverting the government, undermining national unity, and spreading rumors or disturbing the social order."
Since early 2006, MySpace has offered the option to access the service in different regional versions. The alternative regional versions present automated content according to locality (e.g. UK users see other UK users as "Cool New People," and UK oriented events and adverts, etc.), offer local languages other than English, or accommodate the regional differences in spelling and conventions in the English-speaking world (e.g. United States: "favorites," mm/dd/yyyy; the rest of the world: "favourites," dd/mm/yyyy).