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MySpace Users Go Fox Hunting

Jason Lee Miller
Staff Writer
Published: 2005-08-02

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The name rolls off the tongue like that of a James Bond villain, accompanied by a scowl and a painful memory. Muuuuuurdoch! For the constituents of MySpace.com, ownership of their beloved meeting ground by media mogul billionaire and alleged world domination hopeful Rupert Murdoch leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

A short time ago, members of the most popular social networking site, then operated by Intermix Media, Inc., reveled in the online playground that allowed them to make friends and produce their own homepages, personalized with biographical information, photos, news, art-well, anything.

But once the portal became the fifth most visited domain on the Internet, News Corp., parent company of Fox TV, Fox News, and 20th Century Fox, took note.

The big daddy of News Corp., 74-year-old and rumored illuminati member, Rupert Murdoch had barely finished criticizing the newspaper industry of its cold-molasses slowness to embrace the Internet, when News Corp. acquired Intermix and its 22 million registered users for $580 million. Intermix is now a part of Fox Interactive Media.

News of the acquisition was met with a healthy amount of disdain among MySpace users fearful that this is just another rung in Murdoch's Ladder, according to the AP. The chief concerns are about motives, privacy, censorship, and worse, access fees.

"It's something we're very concerned about," said Scott Swiecki, 34, of Tempe Ariz., who's a member of the MySpace group "Faux News."

"There are a lot of counterculture people on MySpace. My concern is Fox will add fees and censor content."

The monitoring of information seems to be the biggest concern, as the content of the WebPages within could provide valuable insight into the consumer.

"The thing about MySpace is that it's a growing audience," said Jupiter Research analyst David Card. "Its users are pretty loyal. They get a lot of time spent on their pages. And the personal information they get from users is pretty reliable because they want to meet people. One would think this information would be pretty useful to advertisers."

MySpace, at least until the merger goes through at the end of the year, has been sort of a world without rules-a local dive where, in Cheers style, everybody knows your name and nobody cares what you do (to an extent).

It's an atmosphere of freedom that users wish to protect from the watchful eyes of power mongers and info-junkies. Many fear the portal will become a mouthpiece for Murdoch and his "right-wing conspiracy" enabling, like another (in their estimation) Fox News.

"I'm opposed to what Rupert Murdoch has done to the media, and I don't want him involved in MySpace," said user Nathan Hall, 26, of Milwaukee.

Whether or not Rupert Murdoch is actually Satan remains to be seen, but News Corp. Spokeswoman, Teri Everett, says that there are no planned changes to MySpace and that no anti-Murdoch messages will be deleted. But those who wrote them will be tracked down and killed. Just kidding on that last part.

But the site most definitely would be an excellent source of information for marketers. But don't take my word for it. Check out what this blog has to say:

"You have millions of American youth identifying with media and expressing their cultural values on the site. Marketers want to understand the constantly shifting youth trends and are often looking for a perch from which to be the ideal voyeur. And with MySpace, they found it. Here, youth are sharing media left right and center and forgetting that they are doing so under the watchful eye of Big Media who are certain to use this to manipulate them. Because youth believe that MySpace is a social tool for them, they are not conscious of how much data they're giving to marketers about their habits."

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About the Author:
Jason L. Miller is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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