Technology should make our lives easier
• Good way to meet new and interesting people
• Great way to show off your creativity
• Highly customizable profile pages
• Ideal for those who love discovering new music bands
• Can be quite slow at times
• Rapid decline in active users over the past couple of years
Once the king of social networking websites, its crown was firmly stolen some time ago by Facebook. Myspace still has a loyal following, but its users are falling.
Boasting what is arguably the most customizable social networking site currently available, MySpace remains a popular place to meet new people and has come a long way since its launch in 2003. The website allows users to build personal web pages that can be filled with anything from your favorite videos, pictures, music and blog – to random games.
Though MySpace went through an explosive growth period that resulted in some haphazard moments, it appears that the developers have finally caught up with their growing user base and the result is a fresh and more mature appearance. Plus the competition from rival Facebook has pushed MySpace developers to add new features such as status updates and applications.
Creating a profile on MySpace is simple – just add your email address, name, birthday, gender and any other personal stats you care to share. Within minutes your new personal web space will be up and running.
Ideally, your web space should be a platform that exhibits your interests and opinions with some personal flair so other like minded people can find you - whether by favorite book, movie or virtually any other interest. Website skins allow for a high degree of page customization as well as an opportunity to express your personality online and there are literally thousands of skins choose from on MySpace and other websites that have sprung up as a result of MySpace popularity.
Though often thought of as a networking site for the young and hip due to its high number of users age 16-25, people of all ages are attracted to the many unique features that MySpace has to offer, such as the ability to set-up user polls that can be placed on your personal webpage as well as shared with other users.
MySpace has certainly become ‘the place to be’ in terms of music and is the perfect platform for musicians to promote their songs. Musical artists can sign up for a free account created specifically for them with built-in features such as gig information, discography and the ability to upload mp3 versions of their music. Performers, such as Lily Allen, used MySpace as a springboard for their careers by building a large online fan base. Many established artists such as Madonna also use the website to communicate directly with fans and receive honest and immediate feedback about their latest tracks.
For the shutterbugs among us, MySpace offers plenty of useful tools such as red eye removal, image resizing and the photo editor can even ‘smooth out wrinkles’.
Music enthusiasts enjoy the ability to add their favorite songs to their personal page through MySpace Music, a feature that has yet to be offered by nearest competitor Facebook. The application also allows users to create customized playlists. So, you can listen to your favorite tunes while chatting with all your friends.
Another useful feature that MySpace offers is personal email accounts using the @myspace.com domain. This is a great option for those who would rather not display their personal email for the world to see.
MySpace has also joined the ranks of social networking sites that are exploiting smartphones for mobile use. You can set-up to receive free text alerts when someone comments on your page, making it easy to keep up-to-date while on the go.
Security has been somewhat of a sticking point for MySpace in the past the site does have a few safeguards in place. For example, any profiles created by users age 13-15 are automatically set to private so unsavory users cannot simply go trawling through kids sites.
However, what MySpace doesn’t provide is accountability for content that appears on personal web pages – meaning that there are some sordid things to be found if you spend time looking and the website has been heavily criticized for its lack of safeguards for children. Still, MySpace is no more dangerous than any other website with similar features and due diligence remains a parental responsibility. For parents that would rather avoid the situation entirely, a safer bet would be Facebook which only allows friends to contact you.
Anyone who has ever wondered ‘what ever happened to…’ will find the 'classmate finder' both highly entertaining and useful. Simply enter the name of your old school and anyone who has added the same school to their personal page will pop-up on the list. The search also allows you to filter results by graduation date to improve your chances.
Unique features of MySpace search engine include the ability to search by name, geographic location, age and gender – features that Facebook developers should consider adding in the future. Plus you can import friends from your email address book via gmail, hotmail, yahoo mail and many more.
MySpace is certainly not the easiest website to use and the burgeoning user base makes page loading a slow process at times. That being said, the website has vastly improved since its early cluttered days and a lot of work has been put into creating a more enjoyable user experience with logical organization and a modern look.
The MySpace help section covers topics ranging from dealing with harassment to a guide of what not to post in forums and newsgroups. Parents and teens will find safety tips and videos specifically targeting their user experience and unique issues.
There is also an extensive FAQ section that covers almost everything, including underage usage, account hijacking and advice on privacy settings.
If all else fails, you can contact MySpace by email for extra support.
If you really feel the need to express who you are visually and lyrically, then MySpace would offer you an ideal creative outlet and the opportunity to meet other likeminded people. However, if you prefer simplicity – Facebook would be the better choice.
It will be interesting to see how MySpace deal with their competition since they have been dethroned by Facebook and now have to deal with Twitter pecking around the social networking landscape.
At the moment, their strongest asset is the collection of independent filmmakers, artists and musicians that use MySpace as a platform to be seen and heard by the masses. This avenue seems to be steadily developing and might offer a glimpse into the direction that MySpace will aim for going into the future.
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