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MySpace and Facebook are two highly popular social networking sites among the over 200 sites available onlne. As one expert noted, these sites are "the digital equivalent of hanging out at the mall". Users, including teenagers and adults build their own "spaces" on these sites, submitting information such as online journals, instant messages, photos, links to friends, music, videos, and personal profiles.

MySpace is far and above the most successful of the two sites, ranking in the top three most trafficked websites in the United States with over 100 million users. Music groups, film studies, consumer product companies, celebrities add to the allure of the site by creating their spaces and posting videos, songs and other content which can be embedded by other users in their profiles. The site is restricted to people 14 years and up, although monitoring that restriction can be difficult.

Founded by Chris deWolfe, CEO, and developed with a group of programmers, MySpace was aquired in July 2005 for $580 million by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation (the parent company of Fox Broadcasting and other media enterprises).

Facebook, based in Palo Alto, California, was founded by two Harvard students in February 2004. The goal was to create an online version of the paper "facebook" or "lookbooks" many colleges provide for their students. Students each create a profile, including interests, photos, and friends. They exchange messages with one another and join groups of friends. Facebook was limited to college students early on, verified with a valid college or university email address. In September 2005, a site for high school students was added, and then the two were able to cross-over (adding college students to high school friends lists and vice versa) earlier this year. Most recently, Facebook announced it is opening the site to any user, not just students. Many think this new lack of exclusiveness will significantly reduce the popularity of the site, and many Facebook members have protested the change.

Facebook remains a privately held company supported by venture capital. Rumors abounded late this summer that they might be acquired by Yahoo; to date, no sale has been announced.

Resources

  1. Facebook is Reality on College Campuses-12/13/06
  2. Decoding MySpace (US News Article)
  3. Is MySpace Your Space As Well?
  4. Rational US News Article on MySpace
  5. Parent Guide to MySpace
  6. Safety Advocate Nancy Willard's MySpace Adventure
  7. "Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why Youth Heart MySpace"
  8. How Young Is Too Young When a Child Wants to Join the MySpace Set?>
  9. Tips from MySpace
  10. MySpace Cheat Sheet for Parents
  11. Safety Tips for Social Networks from the BBC
  12. Parry Aftab and Wired Safety on Blogs and Social Networking Sites
  13. Dateline MSNBC Article on MySpace