Over this past week, a situation exploded in the MySpace community, with MySpace's request for user and music performer Tila Tequila to remove a non-MySpace music store offered on the site, because the store from Indie911 competed with News Corp's "MyStore."
As Eliot Van Buskirk with Wired wrote, "Furor among fans and onlookers escalated."
The New York Times covered the story on Tuesday, as journalist Brad Stone wrote, "At stake is the ability of MySpace, which is owned by the News Corporation, to ensure that it alone can commercially capitalize on its 90 million viewers each month."
The two perspectives are spelled out in this article. One comes from the community, who believe that the reason "MySpace" has become a powerful revenue source for Fox Interactive Media stems from the "MY" part of MySpace, the fact that viewers are able to create their own space as part of the community. Multiple sources quoted in Stone's story emphasize that it is this sense of community at stake and questioning whether the corporate ownership from News Corporation now means that it is no longer a community that "belongs" to the viewers.
On the other hand, a quote from Michael Barrett from Fox Interactive Media from last month in the article states that "YouTube wouldn't exist if it wasn't for MySpace. We've created companies on our back."
Funny that they conjure up the name of YouTube in this process, since the argument sounds remarkably similar to the battle between Viacom and Google over YouTube. I wrote back in February that the two powerhouse corporations seem to be forgetting the community they are fighting over in their ongoing battle. And that fight has now led to a court case.
Yet again, it seems that community members are angered that MySpace's rhetoric is focusing completely on other business models and ignoring the users that power the worth of MySpace in the first place.
Meanwhile, MySpace has plans to expand into MySpace News.
The question remains as to what sets MySpace apart from Friendster. After all, Friendster was the early social networking powerhouse. And users are quick to remind MySpace that it is the users in the space that makes the site valuable and that there's nothing keeping them from moving along if a better service rises up.
How much control should MySpace be able to have over the users playing in that space? Well, they SHOULD be able to have as much control as they want. The question is how much of that control is to their benefit. After all, what is MySpace to profit if they prove that they have complete autonomy over their users' sites, if the result is in driving those viewers away? What's a site to profit if it gains all the control but loses its soul?
Stone writes that "the tussle between MySpace and Indie911 underscores tensions between established Internet companies and the latest generation of Web start-ups. Without a critical mass of visitors to their sites, many of these smaller companies are devising strategies that involve clamping on to sites like MySpace and Facebook and trying to make money off their traffic." Instead, MySpace has its own space for creating new widgets for users in-house, while not allowing users to bring in third-party sources.
Is MySpace just protecting its investment? Or is trying to weed-eat the small business models growing around it going to lead to MySpace poisoning itself in the process?
Thanks to Elanor Hossain for passing this along.