A few weeks ago, I got hung out to dry for suggesting that “questionable” content residing on MySpace along with underage users would potentially harm News Corp’s business interests when advertisers refused to assume the risk. Today, we learn that MySpace agreed me, and suddenly it’s fashionable to talk about “questionable” content without being accused of fascism and anti-first amendment propagandizing. From Financial Times:
MySpace.com, the fast-growing community website hugely popular with American teens, has removed 200,000 Ã¢â‚¬Å“objectionableÃ¢â‚¬Â profiles from its site as it steps up efforts to calm fears about the safety of the network for young users.
The site, which allows users to create their own profiles with details of their interests that can be viewed and linked to by other MySpace.com Ã¢â‚¬Å“friendsÃ¢â‚¬Â, was acquired by Rupert MurdochÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s News Corp last year and its phenomenal growth has placed it at the centre of the media companyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s internet strategy.
Ross Levinsohn, head of News CorpÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s internet division, said some of the material taken down contained Ã¢â‚¬Å“hate speechÃ¢â‚¬Â. Some of it, he said, was Ã¢â‚¬Å“too risquÃƒÂ©Ã¢â‚¬Â.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a problem thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s endemic to the internet Ã¢â‚¬â€œ not just MySpace,Ã¢â‚¬Â Mr Levinsohn said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The site, in the last two months, I think has become safer.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Yeah, it’s an internet problem, but when you become one of the biggest sites on the internet, it becomes YOUR problem.
I liked the Media Post headline, which cuts right to the chase: MySpace Censors Content To Lure Marketers
I’m sure all the MySpace liberatarians will mourn the loss of freedom because hate speech and pornography pages were taken down, and yes this may put a damper on the community and the “network,” but in the end, the spaces on MySpace belong to News Corp, and News Corp belongs to its shareholders.
From spinmeister Chernin:
Also, advertisers have to feel confident their reputation will not be tainted by Ã¢â‚¬Å“inappropriateÃ¢â‚¬Â content. Teachers and parents are concerned that, because information on MySpace is publicly available, it might put teenagers in contact with predatory adults. In terms of retaining its appeal, Mr Chernin said users had to keep feeling the site was theirs. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to change the fundamental look and feel of the site,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We do not want usersÃ¢â‚¬â€°to have any sense that it is corporatised.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Yeah, well, good luck.