Is MySpace Over?

"Are you on MySpace?"

For those college-age or older, the answer may be increasingly no, coupled with a smirk, a roll of the eyes, and a withering "No way. MySpace is for sexual predators."

While MySpace has at least twice the traffic and more users than its biggest competitor, Facebook, the younger site is clearly capturing the cachet so crucial to making a social network successful.

"Facebook is the company to watch, while MySpace is falling off the radar," Silicon Valley analyst Rob Enderle told "MySpace is increasingly irrelevant. Unless they change that, they'll go the way of Netscape or Friendster or any number of other Web properties."


But even if MySpace is no longer the hippest site on the block, according to industry experts, it's not going down without a fight.

Although MySpace launched first, historically, the site has lagged far behind Facebook in innovations. While Facebook opened up its site to developers months ago, MySpace will just begin doing that next week.

Last year, ABC News and Facebook launched a partnership focused on the 2008 presidential election.

Chasing after Facebook's audience is a bad move, said Enderle.

"Facebook is really targeted at an older audience," he said. "Trying to copy Facebook is making MySpace look less and less relevant, [like it's] trying to chase the wrong company."

Instead, MySpace should look to the innovations of social networks targeted to children, especially those that have been particularly aggressive in developing technology to protect kids online, Enderle said.

"MySpace has picked up lot of negative attention in recent months, as children have been targeted by predators," he said.

According to Enderle, MySpace is perceived as having a much younger child audience than Facebook, which began as a social network for college students.

Facebook's original identity may have lent the site credibility that MySpace doesn't have, and its users, who were nearly the same age as creator Mark Zuckerberg, may have inspired privacy protections not found on other sites.

For example, on Facebook, only users who are signed in can look for users; not so on MySpace. Users can also set their Facebook profiles to private, so they can't be found, even when they're searched for.

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, teens are much savvier than adults when it comes to protecting their privacy when using social networks.

"Social networking sites have made it very easy to present yourself online, but what's difficult is to navigate that space in a really smart way," said Susannah Hoff, an associate director at Pew. "Teenagers are much more likely to have a social profile than adults, but teens are more likely than adults to have limited private settings. That's a marker for sophisticated use."

According to Pew, 55 percent of online teens have created an online profile, and 59 percent of them have limited the access to their profile to just their friends. Only 20 percent of online adults have created an online profile, and of those 38 percent have restricted access to friends only, Pew found.

International Delete Your MySpace Account Day

Last week, MySpace faced a more concrete challenge to its status than just the anecdotal "hip factor," in the person of Simon Owens, a 23-year-old Virginia-based blogger and reporter.

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