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Monday, April 09, 2007

Social networking sites: "democracies" or "dictatorships?" Tila Tequila puts it to the test

Rupert Murdoch paid £296 million for MySpace last year.

Did you think, "he must be able to see something we all don't to pay so much?"

It all seemed a little too reminiscent of the dotcom crash, hence the reservations. Where is the substance?

But what has Rupert seen? You could say members, a captive audience. Or has he? It all depends on whether you can say that the members are a "resource" that will be with you for a long time, a loyal following, a market. Surely that is where the value is.

The power in a social networking site is the members and not the owners of the site.

Well, Tila Tequila (pictured; it is a typical picture and that is why she has so many friends I suppose) is testing Rupert Murdoch's MySpace on this point.

The MySpace devotee with 1.7 million online "friends" has launched an appeal to MySpace owners News Corporation "don't sell on us now" (her words) after she was not allowed to sell her music through her pages on the site.

To be fair to News Corporation the terms of use state that there can be no "unauthorised commercial transactions."

However, the power that a social networking site has is not really in the hands of the owners, other than the owner of the site has the power to work with and influence the members. It cannot order them and keep them unless the offering is really attractive with few alternatives.

If the owner alienates members or the site simply does not hold the attention of the members and users it will stagnate, decline and finish.

News Corporation it seems, as noted by the Guardian, is to use MySpace as a vehicle to sell music. That could spell the demise of MySpace although it might take some time.

Alternative social networking sites such as Last FM are providing the option to buy music online and with apparently better streaming and sound quality.

If bands and music lovers switch and others are turned off by RupertSpace that £296 million is going look like a flashback to the dotcom crash.

Surely the democratic approach is the only approach that works for social media.


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