Before Project Economic Refugee appeared anywhere else online, it was on a MySpace page. Back in 2007, the project started with a very simple goal: to encourage people to use the term “economic refugee” when discussing immigration policy. For this reason, MySpace always had a special place in my heart. Even as Facebook grew in popularity, I kept on being a bit of a sentimental for MySpace. My preference for MySpace continued even after ultra-conservative Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp bought it. In case you were wondering, Mr. Murdoch actually happens to be a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform and is rumored to not like the way his own conservative news network, Fox News, demonizes immigrants. Murdoch’s personal views on immigration are, of course, meaningless in the face of just how much damage Fox News’ right-wing propaganda does to the immigrant community.
Independently of who owned MySpace, it seemed to reach an audience that was otherwise not being reached by Facebook, displaying a clear and interesting division along class lines between the two and was a factor in Project Economic Refugee’s focus. Frankly, I thought that audience was being overlooked by every other major progressive organization that was starting to rev up online organizing at the time. MySpace also just seemed to me as allowing far more freedom to be creative, allowing you to manipulate HTML code-in fact, it was through interacting with this social network site that I first learnt what HTML code even was.
In terms of immigration advocacy, MySpace could be said to have been part of the first generation of online organizing on that issue: when the immigration rights marches first exploded across major cities in the United States, most young people would tell you that they heard of the time and location of a local march near them from their MySpace friends. It seemed however that MySpace never really adapted to how its users were interacting with its site and instead tried to stick to rigid plans that focused on meeting revenue and traffic targets. As a special report from Reuters recently revealed, innovation and adaptability quickly suffered, resulting in Facebook completely overshadowing MySpace on that regard:
[Founder of Facebook] Zuckerberg’s great strength, say his one-time rivals from Myspace, was that he and his team were focused on product development and innovation while Myspace had become too concerned with revenue and meeting traffic targets of its Google deal.
“The technology fell behind and it just shows that even when you have a massive user base you still need to offer something new to keep people engaged,” said BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield.
Sadly, the same can be said to be true of adaptability to accomodate advocacy pages like Project Economic Refugee’s. If anything, MySpace did the opposite: at one point going as far as banning PER from posting comments and blogs on its site.
The last death blow to MySpace I have to say came last October 2010 when MySpace did a re-launch, re-marketing itself as an “entertainment social site”. If seeemed to me that part of the reason people fled MySpace in the first place was because they were tired of only interacting with distant cold commercial bands and artists, rather than interacting with actual people that had genuine human interests and passions. Why MySpace chose to base its entire re-launch on doing the very same thing that drove many people away in the first place, is just beyond me.
Anyway, R.I.P. MySpace; it was a fun ride while it lasted … and to all my MySpace friends, please stay in touch: you can follow Project Economic Refugee now on Facebook as well, just click here to access the page.
So why do you think MySpace failed? Did you ever had a MySpace page? What was the last straw that broke the camel’s back for you with them?
Update: is it me or MySpace was also riddled with viruses? Starting from rogue pop ups that stole your login password, to invading your computer with malware when you clicked on certain buttons on a person’s profile…
Update # 2: [June 28, 2011] NewsCorps to sell off MySpace for a mere $20 million.