MySpace : PR Nightmare in the Making

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MySpace : PR Nightmare in the Making

MySpace’s phenomenal popularity with the teens and early twentysomethings generated a $580 million acquisition by the seventysomething Rupert Murdoch. Here are some truly impressive recent metrics on the site (according to comScore):

* 24.2 million unique users in October 2005
* 11.6 billion page views in October 2005
* More page views than any destination other than Yahoo!, AOL and MSN.
* Twice the page views of Google

But what goes up …

Now the MySpace backlash has begun. Numerous stories about stalkers and sexual predators using MySpace to target teens have started to appear. While most users of MySpace at this point won’t care about such stories, this is a PR nightmare in the making that threatens to take over the MySpace “success narrative.”

Hence the consideration of a “MySpace Safety Czar.” According to an article that appeared in the WSJ on Friday:

News Corp. is scrambling to make MySpace a safer place for young people. News Corp. plans to appoint a “safety czar” to oversee the site, launch an education campaign that may include letters to schools and public-service announcements to encourage children not to reveal their contact information. It also is considering limiting access to certain groups, such as “swingers,” to those over 18; blocking search terms that predators could use to locate kids; and encouraging users between 14 and 16 to make their profiles “private,” meaning they can only be viewed by people they already know.

“We’re going to take some pretty dramatic steps to provide industry-leading safety,” says Ross Levinsohn, president of News Corp.’s Fox Interactive Media unit, which includes MySpace.

As the Journal points out those measures might strike at the “cool factor” that has made MySpace such a hit among teens, who can be fickle and might not like the introduction of controls or restrictions. We’ll see if the site can navigate this rough patch and regain control of its own story.

Greg Sterling, Local Search and Convergence Columnist – Greg Sterling is managing editor of The Kelsey Group who also writes the Local Media Journal Blog.

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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  • Scott Fish SEO

    One thing that I’ve seen, even 1 year ago, is that compaies are “Googling” potential employess and some of those results that turn up are myspace accounts. Got a Kegger picture up there? – Good luck getting that Post college job!

  • Hooolia

    I LOVe myspace.

  • DC solves these issues.

  • A.K. of Bright Threads Studio

    I think MySpace offers a valuable service. And I certainly champion free speech on the internet.

    What needs to happen is that parents need to be actively engaged with their kids. And law enforcement personnel in communities like mine need to learn how to deal with crime on the internet.

    My son recently became the victim of bullying and threats via MySpace. The deputy who came to our home refused to investigate or even look at the site.
    There are details on my blog, but the bottom line is we need to educate people, not stop MySpace.

  • jessica

    i thnk myspace is fun. its a way for kids to communicate with friends. there are kids on there that go a little far, but that is ther choice. myspace lets you express yourself however you want to, and not having to worry what people are going to think.

  • dAYNUh