March 18, 2007
MySpace Plans to Expand Services to News Aggregation, Commenting

On Thursday, my colleague here at the Convergence Culture Consortium Ivan Askwith alerted me that Fox Interactive Media is hoping to create a MySpace-branded competitor for news and blog aggregation sites like Digg, called MySpace News.

According to initial press surrounding the service, MySpace News will allow users to create a personalized news portal through which readers can not just receive aggregated news but also rate stories on the service, make comments on those stories, or upload stories of their own.

I don't know how much new ground MySpace News will cover, but marrying the news aggregating function with the popularity MySpace already enjoys may be a key in taking this Web 2.0 behavior and spreading it into more widespread use.

According to Thursday's Cynopsis, from Cynthia Turner, "FIM figures it improves stickiness, as MySpace users won't have to leave the site to check out the latest gossip from elsewhere."

Michael Calore at Wired writes about a leaked sales document that outlines the business plan for the planned site, providing some of the screen shots for the service. Calore also includes a few PowerPoint slides that show how the service would look. According to those slides, one of the goals of the service is "making the news social, allowing users to: rate and comment on every news item that comes through the system; submit stories they think are cool and even author pieces from their MySpace blog."

That's the key to the stickiness pointed out by Turner, the goal to not just have people check their MySpace page from time-to-time but to make it a destination people spend significant amounts of time within. The goal is to make MySpace a portal through which to view the world, now including news and commentaries.

To advertisers, the Fox Interactive Media package for MySpace News pushes that the service would be "perfect for mass reach, branding campaigns for advertisers who want to be connected to the day's top stories as ranked by MySpace users."

Several online commentators are debating what a MySpace-branded news aggregation could mean. Jody at SEOspace writes, "Personally I think MySpace News has the potential to be the leading online source of news out there. This presents a great opportunity for MySpace to share all of the content that they have amassed from users." I'm assuming here that Jody means biggest in terms of largest reach, not in terms of credibility, but I think that this aggregation side of news could reach the tipping point if it was adopted by the majority of the MySpace community.

On the other hand, folks like Zonell Maharaj with Pop + Politics is more cynical as to whether this is celebratory news for the vibrancy of journalism. Zonnell writes, "Since users (see: teenagers) will be able to rank and share news, all the news service will do is round up junk about Paris Hilton and Baldylocks Britney."

The aggregation service would be powered by ROO, whose partnership with Fox I wrote about back in January.