Friday, March 23, 2007

Myspace, full of spammers or just plain pathetic?

On a whim, I signed up for a Myspace profile. I listen to a few podcasts that have a myspace page and I thought I might as well create one of my own.

All of a sudden, I started getting innodated with "Friend" requests. I found this odd, because I hadn't told any of my friends about the page, and most my friends use LiveJournal as their primary social networking site anyway. I'd even used an obscure, somewhat mangled name which few if any of my friends even know about.

I looked through the messages and predictably found that none of them were from people I know. Some of the messages were clearly dating site come ons. "I hope you're still available" was one line, despite the fact that my profile was only 24 hours old and I listed myself as married. There was the friend request from a Los Angeles dance troop , despite the fact that I listed my location as Massachusetts and gave NO indication of any "Dance" interests in my profile.

I joined the Any Sedaris, David Sedaris and Distorted View groups. The Distorted View group was the only one where I already knew anyone, but as I didn't use the same username as I'd use on the Distorted view Forum, no one knew who I was, and as a result, had no way of knowing I was someone they'd even WANT to friend. I got still more friend requests and messages, and none of them were from accounts that were already members of the three groups I'd joined.

I friended Hometown Tales and Margaret Cho, but still, none of the friend requests or messages were related to those profiles. I began to wonder why I was getting all these requests. Having largely ignored myspace I knew little about it. I knew it was prone to attack by various hackers, many myspace pages are painfully ugly, it's full of hideous graphics, it's owned by a large media corporation, is worth 6 Billion and likes to threaten other web sites with lawsuits but that was about it.

The dating and porn site spam made sense. After all, Myspace was founded by a spammer. Why then were random people, many of whom had no obvious connection to something that they were advertising, wasting their time pinging random strangers?

I decided to do some research into the benefits of but found noting to enlighten me. The friend requests from the LA dance troop made sense, as the were advertising something, engaging in a form of spam. That still left the people with nothing to sell, nothing to advertise who were sending out friend requests and messages to random strangers.

I've seen a little of this behavior on LiveJournal. People friend dozens of other folks in an attempt to bulk up their friends page, despite not actually reading any of those journals. I know most the people on my LiveJournal friends list in person. The few whom I don't know from real life (AKA meat space) are people I've met online with whom I actually interact. Myspace seems to have the same problem, but on a much larger scale. At first glance, it looks like half of myspace is full of people who are desperately trying to validate their existence by collecting as many virtual friends as possible.

The question then becomes, is Myspace full of pathetic, lonely people, or are more of them myspace spam profiles than I suspect?

I ignored the account for a few days. When I logged back in today, I noticed that most of the messages and friend requests were replaced with text advising me that the profile that sent them had been deleted. Could they ALL have been from people who threw a sissy fit and deleted their profile, or were they myspace spam profiles, deleted by the moderators? Given the spam soaked origins of myspace, can they be trusted to ferret out the spammers on their own service?

To use a tired old chestnut, "Only time will tell."

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