Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Fleeing" MySpace In Favor Of Facebook?

According to Danah Boyd in "The Not-So-Hidden Politics of Class Online", white people left MySpace for Facebook to escape minorities and the poor. Danah says that, "What happened was modern day white flight." While it may be true that many white people and better educated people left MySpace, I think this article is making the mistake of assuming correlation implies causation; I just don't see this being the reason why people left MySpace.

First of all, MySpace was already starting to run its course. MySpace was a good first draft of what a social networking site could be, but it's sloppy. I can't handle looking at MySpace pages in comparison to Facebook pages... MySpace allows too much customization, to be honest. Too many people don't understand how to design a webpage that is pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate; good website design is a coveted skill and not one that everybody naturally possesses, as shown by the many ugly, hard to read, impossible to navigate MySpace pages. Also, Facebook does a much better job of organizing in general. By taking away some of the user's customization features, Facebook is able to actually present a much more pleasant, professional experience.

Danah also specifically emphasizes that better educated people transferred to Facebook. Perhaps this has something to do with an understanding of privacy on the internet. MySpace is known to be less secure and private than Facebook, even encouraging its users to browse random other users' pages. It seems possible to me that better educated people started to realize the dangers of sharing their personal information with everybody else on the internet and opted out for a more private service in Facebook.

Also, fads (MySpace in this case) don't get "old" if you never experience them in the first place. According to Craig Watkins article "Understanding the Mobile Lives of Black and Latino Youth", less black and Latino people have broadband than White people. He also implies that these and other minorities have been slower in getting on board with broadband in general. If these minorities hadn't been using MySpace for as long as white people had because they started later, maybe they hadn't gotten tired of it yet?

I see what Danah is trying to say in the article, but she seems to be jumping to a lot of conclusions when there are so many other possibilities. Maybe for some people, the composition of MySpace users did in fact play a roll in their transition to Facebook. However, there are simply too many other possibilities to make the claim that it is almost the same thing as "white flight."

1 comment:

  1. I don't think Danah was trying to imply that people fled MySpace because of minorities. Though, the comments she presented do offer some basis for this. I believe she was just trying to compare her findings with the society at large in which racial and social divisions are the order.

    When people find themselves in a new public space they tend to mimic what they had done in other public spaces. Thus, if people are classits or racists in "outside" society, it follows they will reinvent this identity in cyberspace. Thus, it offers a critique to the alleged democratic potential of the internet. I think this is what she was trying to get at but didn't put it into words.