A colleague of mine recently announced that he was "poking MySpace with a stick...and a full suit of gothic platemail, merged with an insane combination of a hazmat and astronaut's suit. Also, gloves." The humor is compounded by the fact that he made this announcement on Facebook.
MySpace has long been the largest social network, only recently been overtaken by Facebook. But Facebook claims that it's growing by 700.000 users a day, and my young friends have deserted MySpace in droves.
So I got on my protective gear and explored MySpace again, for the first time in a while. From a technical perspective, MySpace is quite sophisticated. It has many features that Facebook doesn't, and it has seemingly dealt with some of the privacy issues that plagued it for a while.
But what it doesn't have is activity. Among the 97 MySpace members it found in my address book, only a few seem to be actively using the service. The rest haven't logged in for weeks or months. Even friends who have accounts for business reasons seem to have given up on MySpace. And there are only a handful who don't also have accounts on Facebook and LinkedIn -- But those who do have Facebook and LinkedIn accounts seem to use much more.
I hven't yet had a chance to ask my friends why they've stopped using MySpace. Even three years ago, my high-school and college friends were telling me that MySpace was "not cool." No doubt, privacy and spam have a lot to do with it, not to mention the ads that are obnoxious even by the standards of social media sites. (If you must explore MySpace, use an ad-blocker!)
But in the end, I think too much customization has killed MySpace. As a web designer, I cringe when I see MySpace pages that are horribly laid out, have unreadable color schemes, and are larded with auto-starting music players. Even kids that are used to being bombarded with television must be thinking "this is too much."
Of course, now that Facebook has been discovered by the old fogies, it's probably only a matter of time before the kids go someplace else.