Now a relic of the early 2000s, MySpace was once the social media platform. Rising to popularity in part because of a lack of competition and in part because of its genuine innovation, MySpace was one of the first of its kind, and regardless of its eventual downfall, the platform paved the way for the social media proliferation we’re observing today. Although the site is mostly a ghost town now, it lives on in infamy as one of the pioneers of internet culture and online interaction. 

Since MySpace ultimately lost the race to Facebook, it may be difficult to recognize the merits the site once had and why people retain a nostalgia for it over a decade after its decline. Can its past popularity simply be attributed to the fact that MySpace was one of the only social networks available at the time, or did MySpace truly have something special to offer at one point? Let’s explore MySpace’s meteoric rise and subsequent demise to determine why it continues to live on in internet lore. 

What is MySpace?

MySpace is a now out-of-fashion social media platform that allows users to create customizable profile pages to display their interests and personality, post blog entries, and communicate with other users through forums (Brozyna, 2022). From 2005 to 2008, MySpace was the biggest social media site in the world, with over 300 million registered users at its peak. Though many assume MySpace is defunct, it actually still exists today, and users can still create new profiles and engage with each other on the website. 

The History of MySpace

In the early 2000s, several employees at the online marketing company eUniverse, now known as Intermix Media, Inc., saw the potential of Friendster — a social network that allowed users to make and maintain contacts with whom they could share digital content — and were inspired to create their own social network: MySpace. 

Under the supervision of the founder, CEO, and chairman of eUniverse, Brad Greenspan — Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe co-founded MySpace in 2003. Anderson was MySpace’s first president, while DeWolfe was its first CEO. By using Coldfusion to develop MySpace, Greenspan, DeWolfe, Anderson, and their team of programmers were able to create a site that ran faster than Friendster, which had been developed in JavaServer Pages, now known as Jakarta Server Pages. MySpace, therefore, afforded its users more options for customization, including the ability to alter the background and aesthetics of their profile pages. 

The height of MySpace’s popularity lasted from about 2005 to 2008. At that point, Facebook accumulated more users, eventually overtaking MySpace in popularity and replacing it as the primary social media platform. When launching in 2004, Facebook initially didn’t pose a threat to MySpace, as the site consistently outperformed Facebook's growth and number of users. However, while Facebook massively evolved, frequently adding new features to attract more users, MySpace mostly remained the same, sticking to its branding around music and entertainment. Due to stagnation, the tables eventually turned, with Facebook coming out on top and MySpace’s user base continuing to dwindle from 2008 onward (Brozyna, 2022). 

The Death of MySpace

Aside from competition with Facebook, what factors contributed to the downfall of MySpace? There are a plethora of elements that led to the ultimate decline of the site, but here are some of the most prominent factors:

  • Safety Concerns

Around the time that Facebook overtook MySpace in popularity, MySpace users began raising safety concerns when it was discovered that thousands of registered sex offenders were on the site and lawsuits were filed against MySpace. Parents especially were distressed by this news, and many prohibited their children from using the site (Brozyna, 2022). 

  • Failed Rebrand

In 2011, Justin Timberlake and Specific Media purchased MySpace for $35 million. As building a community around music had always been a major component of the site, Timberlake and Specific Media hoped to capitalize on this by shifting the direction of MySpace to target music enthusiasts instead of a general population of high school and college-aged students. However, after the 2013 relaunch of MySpace received little traction, it became clear that users had lost interest in the platform (Brozyna, 2022). 

  • Unsecure Data and Lost Content

Since the beginning of MySpace’s decline in 2008, there have also been several security-related missteps that have brought the company under scrutiny. In 2016, 400 million MySpace passwords were compromised in a massive hack that damaged the platform’s already shaky reputation (Brozyna, 2022). Then, in 2019, a server migration mishap caused 12 years' worth of content to be deleted permanently, including any pictures, videos, and songs uploaded to MySpace from 2003 to 2015 (Brozyna, 2022). Ultimately, these issues solidified MySpace’s status as an obsolete social network. 

Digital Marketing Takeaways of MySpace

Though it could be considered a failure for its inability to persist as a top social network today, there is still some value in examining what went wrong with MySpace to gain insight into the pitfalls to avoid as a social media platform or digital marketer: 

  • Don’t Over Do It With Redesigns 

While the heyday of MySpace has long passed, its heavily detailed rise and downfall can still teach us a lot about how to grow and maintain an audience. Users value a mixture of innovation and consistency; while Facebook’s constant updating of the site's features was one of the main points of attraction for users to switch over from MySpace, users of Facebook and MySpace both disliked site redesigns and tweaks (Newman, 2011). So when MySpace tried to use massive website redesigns as a selling point to get users to return to the platform, it majorly backfired, and users continued to migrate to Facebook. 

  • Diversify Your User Base

Another element of MySpace's downfall was its reliance on an audience of young people as its primary user base. The interests of young people are constantly changing, so they tend to alternate between different social media platforms instead of staying loyal to a singular site (Newman, 2011). Plus, as teenagers age and grow out of social networks marketed toward younger audiences, they often migrate to sites with a more mature user base, such as Facebook. In contrast to MySpace, many of Facebook’s early users grew with it, choosing to stay on the platform instead of migrating elsewhere once they grew out of the college demographic. 

  • Curtail Spamming

Additionally, MySpace suffered from rampant spamming, malware, and phishing that made the user experience on the website much less pleasant (Newman, 2011). Users want an uninterrupted, stable experience when using a social media platform, not to mention they also want to feel secure in knowing their privacy, information, and interactions are safe too. MySpace failed to adequately defend against these various intrusions and attacks on the user experience, which majorly contributed to the platform’s collapse. 

  • Learn to Evolve 

While social networks like Facebook constantly tested new features, they all seemed to grasp the importance of making desired content for individual users easily accessible. MySpace, however, failed to adapt to its users’ changing needs and desires. The platform never moved past the basic organization around user profile pages, which made it much more difficult to find content without intentionally searching for it. Thus, Facebook’s ease of use and convenience made it all the more appealing in the face of MySpace’s outdated usage mechanics and structure. 

MySpace’s short-lived reign as the top social media platform is fascinating, to say the least. Aside from the basic intrigue surrounding the site’s speedy rise to prominence and just as quick fall-off, MySpace also makes for a great case study because of the lessons we can take from its history. While MySpace’s creators did well to get the site off the ground and build a rapidly expanding user base, they couldn’t maintain these users long-term, ultimately leading to the platform’s demise. Even so, it remains an iconic part of early-2000s internet culture, and its legacy as one of the original great social networks will likely continue to persist for many years. 

If you need help navigating the digital marketing sphere with your business, BlueTickSocial is here for you. Contact us today to begin growing your brand’s online presence! 


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