MySpace v. Facebook: The Class Divide

There’s been plenty of buzz this week over a paper by U.C. Berkeley PhD. student Danah Boyd, who argues that Facebook users are more socioeconomically advantaged than those on MySpace. According to Boyd, the Facebook crowd “tend[s] to come from families who emphasize education and going to college … They are primarily white, but not exclusively. They are in honors classes, looking forward to the prom, and live in a world dictated by after school activities.”

This conclusion isn’t too surprising given the evolution paths of the two sites. MySpace, launched in 2003 as a competitor to the then-dominant Friendster, built its popularity on the ability to post music files on individual profiles. It emerged in 2005 as the preeminent social networking site, and developed popularity as a means of self-promotion for careers ranging from adult film star to presidential candidate.

Facebook, meanwhile, was created in 2004 by an undergraduate at Harvard, and evolved as an invite-only site for college students. In 2006, when MySpace was boasting 46 million users a month to Facebook’s 9.3 million, the smaller site opened its doors to include all potential users (to some protests from its core market of undergrads, recent alums, and teens preparing for college). Only in the past few months has the network begun to creep up on MySpace in popularity and growth. As such, logic decrees that Facebook would emerge as the more academically-oriented of the two, with a greater draw for upwardly mobile teens headed for college — a disproportionate number of whom are also white and come from wealthier backgrounds. And that, it seems, is an issue far more worthy of study.

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  1. kentavos says:

    A continued disproportionate growth rate would be unremarkable as well, since new users would likely be recruited from the current base of users.

    If anything, the difference showcases how de facto segregation applies itself in socioeconomic terms, not just race.

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  2. kentavos says:

    A continued disproportionate growth rate would be unremarkable as well, since new users would likely be recruited from the current base of users.

    If anything, the difference showcases how de facto segregation applies itself in socioeconomic terms, not just race.

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  3. neverknowsbest says:

    I’m glad that at least one site has taken a reasoned look at the hubbub around this paper. It seems like everyone’s jumping on the class divide issue without looking at the exceedingly obvious explanation.

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  4. neverknowsbest says:

    I’m glad that at least one site has taken a reasoned look at the hubbub around this paper. It seems like everyone’s jumping on the class divide issue without looking at the exceedingly obvious explanation.

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  5. frank-gilroy says:

    You know, as a parent I’ve been pretty concerned about Myspace and the kids my children meet and talk to there. I just caught myself considering telling them that I was going to block myspace from the router and suggest Facebook. But in the small rural area we’re in, “all of the other kids”, are on myspace. Hmmm… what to do, what to do …

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  6. frank-gilroy says:

    You know, as a parent I’ve been pretty concerned about Myspace and the kids my children meet and talk to there. I just caught myself considering telling them that I was going to block myspace from the router and suggest Facebook. But in the small rural area we’re in, “all of the other kids”, are on myspace. Hmmm… what to do, what to do …

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  7. jeffthecheff says:

    Facebook was made for college students, so most people on facebook either went to college, are in college, or are planning on going to college.

    Myspace was made for everyone, and it seems like most people on myspace are in high school, or are adults who weren’t in college when facebook was invented.

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  8. jeffthecheff says:

    Facebook was made for college students, so most people on facebook either went to college, are in college, or are planning on going to college.

    Myspace was made for everyone, and it seems like most people on myspace are in high school, or are adults who weren’t in college when facebook was invented.

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