If you were a hip, young internet user in the early 2000’s you probably had a Myspace. It was quite a common interaction online and even in real life to ask someone if they were on Myspace and if they could be your friend. However, nowadays, many have not even heard of what was once one of the most popular websites on the internet. Today we ask, whatever happened to Myspace? Where did it go? Who even is Myspace?
To use a modern comparison, Myspace was a precursor to and almost certainly an influence of Facebook (along with Friendster and other proto social networks). Myspace was launched in 2003 by Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson (also known as Your Friend Tom because he is added by default to your friends list) and became popular very quickly – particularly among cool teens and hip young adults. In 2006 it was the most visited website in the United States, even surpassing Google.
Myspace’s first layout was rather simple: profile picture on the left, contact info and interests below that with blogs and “blurbs” (like Facebook posts) dominating the central area of the page and various customisation options, such as visual themes and music. The site went through several redesigns (especially as the users started leaving) but largely had the same basic principles with your main profile area being the main page.
To take the trip a little further down memory lane, selfies were posted all over Myspace before selfie was even a word! They were usually taken at a high angle with an actual camera, as opposed to a smartphone, and may or may not have featured a little sign you wrote about how much you love your bestie.
People wrote detailed “About me” sections and believed people would read them and selected a song for their profile assuming people would listen (they didn’t. In fact the first thing they did when they stalked your profile was pause your song). The site would make you choose your top 8 favourite people and rate them in order of preference, usually with devastating consequences to your personal life.
So what happened?
Myspace was sold by its original owners to media giant News Corporation in 2005 for a very hefty sum of $580 Million, and while it continued to see success, it did not last much longer. The decline of Myspace began in 2008, when Facebook started becoming more popular. It would be easy to just say that Facebook killed Myspace and leave it at that, but there were a few other factors at play here.
Users were migrating to newer, better designed social media platforms which offered newer features and an overall better social environment. The refusal to change from the original core design of the site and a heavy increase in advertising space also contributed to the rapidly dwindling numbers.
Unlike Facebook, where ads are smaller and targeted by a variety of measures (location, browsing habits, interests), Myspace ads were obnoxiously interfering and often not relevant, making for a frustrating user experience. And as much as we love to complain every time Facebook gets a new layout, the regular refreshing actually keeps us interested; Myspace’s refusal to change became stagnant and boring for users.
Where is it now?
Myspace does still exist these days, however the user-base is significantly smaller and it looks and feels different to the original incarnation. Many redesigns were undertaken over the years to curb the shrinking user-base to no avail.
The site was retooled in 2013 to cater more to music and brands – a move which drew heavy criticism from existing users as almost all existing user data was deleted. So if you had a Myspace page from way back which you were thinking of checking out of morbid curiosity and/or boredom – you are out of luck.
What does this mean?
Newer social media “empires” have likely learned from Myspace’s mistakes (look how often Facebook has updated over the years) and are less likely to repeat them. However the demise of newer social networks does seem to be inevitable due to accelerated pace of progress on the internet and the fickleness of human nature.
Even something that seemed, at the time, so ubiquitous and so popular can or even will eventually come to an end – take screenshots if you want to keep the memories alive, backup pictures, save text or stories that are near and dear to you because the networks we use are not permanent.
Do you miss Myspace? Let us know in the comments below.