my personal blog

January 26, 2006

Six Ways to Fix MySpace in 2006

Filed under: news — Alfonso Surroca @ 11:45 am

MySpace, you've hit critical mass. A giant media conglomerate owns you, every major-label band has a page, and you're sponsoring events and concerts all over the nation. It's time to realize that you're not a grass-roots little social networking website anymore. It's time for some changes:

1. Obsolete Design: First and foremost, the entire design needs to be overhauled. The look and feel of the site hasn't been seen on a mainstream site since before the dot-com bubble burst.

2. Blogging: Use a real blogging/content management platform instead of the sorry excuse that currently exists. Adding RSS feeds and category was a step in the right direction, but it was just a baby step. I'd like to be able to insert scripts that allow Google bots, Technorati, etc. to index my blog. I'd like to be able to use tags isntead of about a dozen pre-selected categories for my posts. And I'd like a public API for the system so that I can write new posts in third party apps (such as Flock's blogging feature).

3. Targeted/Filtered Content: Apparently, 75 percent of MySpace users are over 18. That's good to know, but I don't want to see the other 25 percent. Ever. Allow users some kind of control over the content they get. Now that you're part of a the big media biz, use that to conduct some kind of research on your users and tailor the site to each user's preferences. Google has been doing its ads this way for years, and you can tailor your content this way, too. Heck, have a bot comb through user's "about me" section to understand their preferences for starters.

4. Underage Users: Continuing the subject of underage users, you need to do a better job banning anyone under the age of 14. MySpace is littered with little kids who misrepresent their age to circumvent the underage ban, and this needs to be addressed. Anyone under this age has no business posting personal information online for any purpose, and we know parents are essentially worthless when it comes to anything that involves actual parenting such as monitoring what their kids do online.

5. Content Privacy: Make users under the age of 18 subscribe to a more stringent set of terms/agreements/rules than older users. The law sees them differently, and so should MySpace. I'm 24, and if I post private information online that burns me in the future, I'm a dumbass and I'm the only one responsible. But, if a teenager does it, suddenly their parents (with media in tow) will come bearing pitchforks. Take the easy way out: Instead of telling users that it's not a good idea to post personal information, forbid anyone under 18 to post this stuff and delete all infringing pages. Furthermore, beef up the overal privacy of content on the network, so that users can feel alright posting private details as long as they set it to "friends only". Just like we are allowed to set blog posts to private or "friends only", we should be able to do this with other content on our pages. Regarding teenager privacy:

"In the last month, authorities have charged at least three men with sexually assaulting teenagers they found through and just this week police found a missing 15-year-old girl who investigators say was sexually assaulted by a 26-year-old man she met through the site. MySpace members are now warning each other about the danger of sharing information online."- Why parents must mind MySpace (MSNBC) – 1/27/06

I don't want MySpace to become the next "street racing" or "videogame violence" issue.

6. SPAM: Do a better job fighting spam and fraudulent accounts. I think it's part of what killed once-competitor Freindster, and it's the bane of any online community. I'm getting weary of finding a new message in my inbox from a robot linking to a fraudulent MySpace account advertising a porn site once a week. As a user, you can help by using this link to report underage, fraudulent, or spam accounts.

And that's a start.

technorati tags: media, myspace, oped, socialnetworking

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