The Truth about Myspace

July 20, 2005

http://apple-x.net/modules.php?op=m…old=0

In case he gets threatened…

Headed by CEO Chris DeWolfe, MySpace.com offers all of its services, such as blogging, messaging, member searching, personal ads, music and events, free to their several million members and they claim to make profit solely through advertising. In just under two years, MySpace.com has trounced its main competitor, Friendster, to become one of the largest websites on the internet —not an easy task. CEO DeWolfe, Co-founder and President Anderson, and CTO Whitcomb are all former employees of Xdrive, Inc. and ReponseBase, LLC. Currently, the site boasts that it has over 22 million registered users who use the site for social networking. What makes MySpace so intriguing to its users is that it provides them with a number of personalized services for free as well as a profile that they can fully customize and use to display personal information about themselves that friends can comment meanwhile linking to their friend’s profiles. The site provides these millions of users with free hosting space for images to use in their profiles. The site is virally popular among today’s youth and commands a near cult-like following. Recently, media outlets including Fox 11 News Los Angeles have scrutinized the site for not deleting underage accounts (users are required to be 18), and for being a potential pedophilia hub. MySpace refused to comment on the Fox 11 story. MySpace has also refused to comment on this story. Most users of the site do not readily know about the site’s privacy policy that like many companies such as AOL claim ownership of anything users provide them including text, images, music, video, etc. Neither are most users aware of exactly who the elusive executives behind the company are. Unlike other internet success stories such as Google and Amazon there is pretty much nothing detailed concerning MySpace.

MySpace.com may be under two years old but MySpace’s story actually begins years ago when MySpace CEO, Chris DeWolfe was the Vice President of Marketing at Xdrive Technologies, Inc. from October 1999 to March 2001, a company that during the dot-com bubble was in the business of giving millions of users large amounts of free online storage. Like any dot-com bust story, Xdrive’s isn’t pretty, especially for DeWolfe and his colleagues. At Xdrive, DeWolfe lead a diverse marketing team of whom DeWolfe later cultivated their talents to create MySpace. MySpace co-founder Tom Anderson came from Xdrive for he was in the creative department in charge of advertisement design and later became an assistant in DeWolfe’s marketing department. As one source once close to DeWofle’s team put it, “DeWolfe learned while at Xdrive that people will sign up for almost anything that they find useful, and they could care less about the fine print.”

While Myspace’s history isn’t readily available to its users, it can be pieced together as one aspiring journalist found out in November of 2004. This aspiring journalist was browsing some of the top websites on the internet via Alexa.com and stumbled upon claims that users were receiving spam after signing up for MySpace.com. Being a member of this site and concerned with the allegations this journalist then setup a fresh e-mail address and MySpace account and let it sit for a month and no spam was ever received. As far as this journalist could tell the claims made on Alexa were false and to this day MySpace spam allegations have yet to be proven. However, as this journalist continued investigating MySpace he discovered that MySpace was owned by Intermix Media, Inc. (formerly eUniverse), a company known for pop-up advertising, past use of adware and spyware and that they were one of the companies that help supply the adware behind controversial peer-to-peer file sharing network Kazaa.

For the next month this journalist continued his investigation and even tracked down a source that had once been close to the now MySpace executives of MySpace.com, CEO Chris DeWolfe and President Tom Anderson. With a credible and confirmed source on his side this journalist dug deep finding a web of controversy surrounding both Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson. After a solid month of research, interviews, and an upcoming final due in his college journalism class the journalist put together a five-page article composed of everything he had learned about the company and its executives. The last phase of this journalistic duty was to seek comment from the executives themselves on the article. This last phase however did not go so well for after contacting MySpace’s CEO Chris DeWolfe he had a PR representative reply to the journalist’s questions and concerns. The PR representative claimed the journalist’s claims were unfounded, the source to not be credible, and then had MySpace’s legal team send a letter to the journalist saying that if he published the article on his website or blog or sought to get it published elsewhere they would sue. Just a simple college student with no legal team at his side and a journalism teacher who did not fully understanding the implications of the content of the article the journalist had no where left to turn and the article was to reside silently in a folder on his Macintosh.

Continuing to follow MySpace related news the journalist felt justice had been served when Attorney General Eliot Spitzer sued Intermix Media, Inc. for being the source of “spyware” and “adware” that had been installed in millions of computer users machines without their knowledge (to the best of knowledge, MySpace.com itself never used Intermix’s adware or spyware).

“Spyware and adware are more than an annoyance,” Spitzer said. “These fraudulent programs foul machines, undermine productivity and in many cases frustrate consumers’ efforts to remove them from their computers. These issues can serve to be a hindrance to the growth of e-commerce.”

Ari Schwartz, the Associate Director of the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington D.C. said, “One of Internet users’ biggest frustrations today is unwanted software that sneaks onto computers without their owner’s consent and cannot be uninstalled. Companies have gotten away with unethical and illegal software download practices for too long. The practices alleged in this case are widespread on the Internet and we hope that both federal and state authorities follow Attorney General Spitzer’s lead in making this a priority, ”

The suit follows a six-month investigation in which the Attorney General’s office found that the company had installed a wide range of advertising software on home computers without giving consumers proper notice (STATE SUES MAJOR “SPYWARE” DISTRIBUTOR).

However, the story did not end there. Intermix Media, Inc. agreed to pay $7.9 million to settle the suit from the Attorney General without admitting they did anything wrong. It was then announced this past Monday that MySpace was to be entirely acquired by Intermix Media (formerly Intermix only owned a little over a half of MySpace). Following this, today it was announced that in a separate deal Intermix Media, Inc. including MySpace was to be purchased for $580 million dollars by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. As part of the acquisition by News Corp, MySpace’s CEO Chris DeWolfe will continue his role with MySpace as apart of the Fox Interactive Media unit.

So why should any of this be of concern to MySpace and internet users?

As stated earlier in this article, the MySpace privacy policy and company filings including all users’ information lists, databases, text, files and documents are explicitly documented as an asset of MySpace. The agreement also states MySpace can sell the site and all user information to a third party that might not necessarily follow the same privacy policy as MySpace. To put it simply, MySpace owns everything a user provides them with. This is not entirely an uncommon thing for many free services such as AOL’s Instant Messenger have similar privacy policies. The policy also grants MySpace the internal ability to use member-provided information as they see fit. MySpace’s privacy policy even allows them to change their privacy policy at any time. Now all of this user information is in the hands of News Corp. and they can pretty much do whatever they want with it. Not to say anything bad will come of this, in fact this could mean better protection for users privacy, or it may not. This is possible reason for concern especially considering MySpace’s blog population for a MySpace run blog is technically owned by the same people who bring you Fox News.

As for the identity of the aspiring journalist mentioned above? It was I, Trent Lapinski. After today’s news I felt the need to break my silence and write this fresh new article. I actually left out anything that MySpace’s PR representative brought to question just to make sure the validity of my article was at least 100%. That being said, the rabbit hole probably gets even deeper.

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3 Responses to “The Truth about Myspace”

  1. sc35ww Says:

    Since you know how to check on these make money quick sites ,would you check one out for me.Its called’ Musketeer partners ‘ out off Las Vegas Nevada.if you would ,I have been interested in it but most are scams.Thank you Russell West

  2. Chad Says:

    Anyone else having bother with myspace or is it just my pc?
    Last couple of days it seems it wont let me download any song from anywhere.
    Anyone having same bother – or anyone how to sort it?

  3. Krista Antonini Says:

    Death toll -aprox. 70 on INT scale.


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