Facebook Vs MySpace
February 2009. Updated October 2013
In 2009 a war was being waged online, and its a war of words between users of Facebook and users of MySpace. Five years later that war is over. Facebook is the clear winner, and while MySpace still exists it is clearly a website for musicians and music lovers, whereas Facebook is clearly the website for people who want to socialize and share photos of cats, dogs, videos of funny things, click Like on things, play brainless games, and so forth.
The article below was written in 2009 - before the war was clearly won by Facebook - and thus you have to read it with this in mind.
We have also updated some of the text below because it was frankly outdated. So some of it will be written within the context of 2009, and some of it will be updated as per what we now know in 2013.
What is at stake in this social media war? The future of social networking for next couple years as companies (and users) battle it out for popularity and profits.
MySpace was started in August 2003 and quickly became one of the most popular ways to leave messages and photos for friends. It also includes built-in music that plays on every single page... which is a key reason why many people hate MySpace. The auto-play music feature is a tad annoying.
But MySpace has its good points too. Due to its focus on music its become an excellent way to promote new musical talent.
Another annoying factor of MySpace however is all the images are posted at the original size, which means the layout of the site tends to go off the screen to the right.
So obviously as the first big social networking site MySpace was bound to have some problems and some kinks. MySpace is currently 20% more popular than Facebook, but Facebook is gaining new users at a much faster rate (see below).
Facebook was started in February 2004 and has since made rapid gains on MySpace. The site offers more ways to network, fun applications that can be added to member profiles, a customizable layout that is easy to use and modify (click and drag), more detailed profiles, privacy settings and ease of use.
Its no small surprise then that many MySpace users are not switching (sometimes grudgingly) to Facebook, but just because Facebook looks newer and better doesn't mean it is automatically the winner.
MySpace is fighting back by trying to become more user friendly and offering more things that weren't previously available.
I'd like to point out however that MySpace was NOT the first social networking sites. Geocities was.
Prior to the takeover of Geocities by internet juggernaut Yahoo! Inc. Geocities was a community, had chatrooms (the most popular on the internet before they were shut down due to misuse), clubs, groups, art galleries and more. People networked with other users via the individual cities which had specific themes (Hollywood for entertainment, SoHo for art, Paris for culture, etc).
When Yahoo! Inc. took over in 1999 all that extra stuff was cut (because it was deemed not profitable) and the site changed its focus to trying to suck money out of its users, which sparked an exodus of users (and some people argue caused the internet bubble to burst).
The Once and Future Social Network
Evidently with time social networks are going to change and adapt. Some may even become more popular in the future - or get bought by a rival company and have their identity change, which is what happened when Geocities was purchased by Yahoo.
Thanks to SmartPhones things over the years have changed dramatically too. We now use SmartPhone apps for many tasks and many social networks have their own apps, and thus these apps now control much of what goes on with websites like MySpace and Facebook.
Lets take for example the website MyLife, which is a website which allows people to prioritize their Facebook and other social media applications so that they ignore spam, monitor their identity, and can multitask across multiple different social networks while prioritizing which ones deserve the most attention.
To the casual person this sounds exceptionally handy - you can monitor Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace and other social networks all from one website / one app, and you don't have to worry about monitoring them all at once - and you don't have to worry about junk messages / notifications from them. Such sites may indeed be the future of social networks, whereby people in the future may simply sign up for one platform website which controls all of their social media accounts from that one account.
The future of social networking therefore is likely to be adaptable and multi-account based, making it more user friendly for people to manage multiple accounts at once.
Popularity Contest: MySpace Vs Facebook
Round 1: Design
Layout: Facebook wins here because the profiles are well set up and neatly organized and itÕs easy to navigate through the profiles to find the info you want. It mainly beats MySpace because most profiles are so ugly and inconsistent.
Overall Site Design: Facebook is obviously the winner here. MySpace looks so unprofessionally done when compared to Facebook, mainly again because of itÕs inconsistent design. This time its MySpace themselves, not the users, who make the site difficult to use.
Profiles: This is a tie because MySpace has a lot of customization, but FacebookÕs default looks better than MySpaceÕs and itÕs very neat and well organized.
Customization: MySpace and Facebook tie here. While Facebook lets you add and remove applications, MySpace lets you do whatever you want with the pages, if you know a little HTML that is. Unfortunately thats the reason MySpaceÕs design is so unruly for the most part.
Site Organization: Both site are pretty well organized. However, Facebook wins because of its clean layout that allows you to find everything right away, and itÕs start page is a link to everything you need in neat and tidy boxes.
Round 2: Media
Pictures: Facebook wins here because of its well-organized picture section and the ability to tag people and have people tag themselves. Also, with the apps recently released you can now add Fiickr and other photosharing site streams to your profile. However, Fox now owns Photobucket, which provides photo hosting to MySpace users.
Videos: This one is a tie because both MySpace and Facebook let you upload video and they both have their own flash player. MySpace will let you embed video into your profile but you can post videos to Facebook as well.
Music: MySpace wins, but only just - we all know that every band ever has a MySpace account . However, with the new Facebook apps you can add your data from music tracking sites like Last.fm and iLike: in fact the top app on Facebook at the moment is the iLike app.
Sharing: Now, FacebookÕs advantage here is only a slight one. Facebook allows you to share media links very easily and i fact automatically though the Facebook feed, something that IÕm sure many MySpace users would like to be able to do (MySpace News isnÕt really suited to this). You can, however, grab embedded media like videos from other profiles to repost on MySpace.
Round 3: Community
Relationships: A big difference on Facebook is that the friends you add are usually your real friends. ItÕs not a contest like on MySpace where everyone is trying to have the most friends. On Facebook it about talking to the people you know and sharing things with them.
Groups: Both sites have groups, but Facebook makes them more prominent. They are a bigger part of the service and there are a lot of people using them for clever uses like planning meet up and giving info to fans.
Keeping Track of WhatÕs New: Facebook kills MySpace here. On MySpace the only way to know if a friend added something new to their profile is to go look at it, and the only way to know if you made a new friends is to look for the person. Facebook has two feeds. One tells you whatÕs new with you, like who accepted your friend request or your posted items, etc. The other feed tells you whatÕs up with all your friends, like who they added and what groups they joined.
Messaging: This is a tie. They both have a place where people can leave messages on your profile and they both have a basic mail system.
Co-Workers: Facebook can be used as a tool to talk to the people you work with also and see whatÕs new with them. You can even join a network for your company. MySpace was really designed for teens so it doesnÕt really have these types of features.
Round 4: Usefulness
Finding Old Friends: One of the major reasons for joining a social network is to reconnect with old friends or classmates. Facebook makes this really easy because the whole site is organized by schools and now by locations too. So unless you forgot your friends name you will probably be able to find them if they have an account. MySpace lets you search for school friends, but doesnÕt put the emphasis on real friendships.
Communication:Facebook is a good way to contact people if you donÕt know their contact info. Someone is more likely to notice a Facebook message than a MySpace Message due to the fact that there is less Facebook spam.
Promoting Yourself: MySpace wins here. Thousands of bands use MySpace to promote their music and their fans use it to show their support. This isnÕt nearly as evident on Facebook, although groups allow companies to promote themselves.
Getting Laid: If you are looking for action, then youÕll probably want to go with MySpace - see our survey for the reasons behind this.
Round 5: Ease of Use
Adding Friends: MySpace wins here because adding new friends and accepting friends requests is usually a one click process. The major advance here over Facebook is the ability to add large amounts of friends at once which for some reason was never added to Facebook.
Search: The winner here is a little bit surprising when you consider Google does the search for the loser. FacebookÕs search beats MySpace by a mile. Even though the search engine giant Google is providing MySpaceÕs search, its results are not nearly as useful as FacebookÕs. The big issue here is that MySpaceÕs search looks in the whole profile, even when just looking for a person, FacebookÕs is smart enough to know if you are looking for a user or a movie in someoneÕs interests.
Navigation: Both MySpace and Facebook have pretty decent navigation, but Facebook beats MySpace when it comes to getting to specific peopleÕs profiles due to its superior search.
Privacy: Facebook makes it really easy to hide info from certain people and to not show information that you want to be kept private. So, if you only want you close friends to see you contact info, it only takes a second. MySpace has privacy too, but itÕs far less granular.
Alexa Graph Widget
Is MySpace still your space?
Internet radio personality Ken Rutkowski says the original intent behind social networking sites such as MySpace has fallen by the wayside as they've become more popular, a trend that could alienate their most fervent users.
Case in point, he said, is Tila Nguyen, who has more than two million "friends" on MySpace -- more than anyone else on the social networking Web site.
Nguyen, who uses the name Tila Tequila, has achieved celebrity status on her MySpace site. It helped get her on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, Maxim, and a full-page article in Time. She's leveraged all the attention to get her own show on MTV.
That's great for her -- but not for the site's 200 million users, Rutkowski says.
"She's found a unique way to make money off of you, but that's not what these social networking sites were supposed to be all about," said Rutkowski, who has been broadcasting on his tech-oriented Internet radio site Kenradio.com for 12 years. Over the years, Rutkowski has joined about 10 social networking sites, including MySpace and Facebook. The first site he joined was Six Degrees, in 1999, a site later acquired by online retailer Amazon AMZN.
"The original idea of social networking sites was to bring like-minded people to interact and work together to develop opportunities, but that's changed," Rutkowski said. "It's now become a competition to add as many friends to your list as possible and you don't even know who these people are. People are just joining for the heck of it and that ruins the fabric of a social network."
Rutkowski used this subject as a recent topic on his half-hour radio show, which runs each weekday morning. His sidekick, co-host Andy Abramson, who runs a Web site called VoIP Watch, concurred.
"Social networking is broken," he said. "People want to have more friends than anyone else and it gets abused."
Venture capitalist Fred Wilson in June expressed a similar view on the tech-oriented Web site Skrenta.com.
"MySpace is a tired social network that may have a ton of traffic but it has peaked," he wrote. "It doesn't have mojo anymore. Like AOL in 1999, it will take years before people realize it."
Others seem to concur.
Responding to the Wilson's criticism, one Skrenta.com visitor wrote: "Facebook is already worth a lot more than MySpace. It might take another year or two before people realize it, but it happened about a month ago."
Others might argue that the purpose of social networking isn't just about creating community but, ultimately, making money. And by that measure, MySpace seems to be doing fine.
About 200 million people have posted profiles on MySpace; twice the number who had done so a year ago. Media conglomerate News Corp. (NYSE:NWS) NWS acquired the site two years ago when MySpace had just reported $23 million in revenue for the year.
Over the past year, MySpace reported sales of $550 million and a profit of $10 million. News Corp. projects revenue of $800 million over the next 12 months.
Equally hot is privately held Facebook, the second largest social networking site with about 40 million members, up from 24 million in May.
Despite his criticism that social networking sites are losing relevancy, Rutkowski has high praise for Facebook.
"People on Facebook will respond to you. They type more and send more e-mails and comment more," he said. "People on MySpace are lurkers and video watchers. In any network you want workers, not lurkers.
Rutkowski said he visits Facebook more than 10 times a day vs. just once a week for MySpace and other social networking sites.
Data suggest Facebook has the wind at its back. The amount of unique visitors to the site rose 113% to 30.5 million in August, compared with growth of 28% and 69.6 million unique visitors at MySpace, according to research firm Nielsen/NetRatings.
To be sure, Facebook is accelerating from a smaller base. And part of its rapid growth can be attributed to the decision by Facebook last year to open registration to the general public. Previously, Facebook was limited to college students and other educational institutions.
At the time, it averaged about 14 million unique visitors a month. That has risen 117% since then.
Meanwhile, not everyone agrees MySpace is fading.
"People been trying to spell the end of MySpace for more than a year, and it keeps adding visitors," said Andrew Lipsman, analyst at research firm comScore Media Metrix.