Facebook is rapidly gaining popularity. Much of the growth is from MySpace refugees. In principal , MySpace and Facebook perform many of the same functions. Nevertheless, I really don't like MySpace. In fact, it was my extreme dislike for MySpace that made me slow to join Facebook. There is one primary reason why I dislike MySpace so much, and it has to do with anonymity. Because MySpace allows profiles to be built with fake user names, it draws a certain kind of crowd, or at least a certain kind of behavior from its crowd. Anonymity opens the door to some particularly polluted spam. It's one thing to get a friend request from someone you don't know but whose profile is somewhat authentic; it's another to be propositioned from the red light district of social media. No thanks!
Another problem with MySpace is its interface. It's very slow, convoluted, and requires multiple clicks to get to the tools you need. All the while they bombard you with ads! Now I'm not at all against advertising in social media; the main point of this newsletter is about how social media sites like Facebook are important to advertisers. But untargeted, abrasive, and overwhelming ads are never welcome. MySpace is also prone to hacking and comment spam. Several people I know have had their pages abused by spammers who hijacked a friend's profile and left inappropriate comments using the hijacked identity.
Facebook, on the other hand, encourages accounts to use real names and genuine information. Now there's nothing stopping anyone from lying and providing false profile information, but you won't find nearly as many profiles with names like "Miss L3xis88" on Facebook. Facebook's interface is clean, easy to use, well-ordered, and navigable. As a result, Facebook contains significantly less spam and immature content than MySpace.
Part of the new advertising platform for Facebook which I'll review below is their "Facebook Page" function. One reason MySpace is still popular is that anyone or anything can create a MySpace page. This means MySpace profiles can be real people, or they can be bands, movies, groups, or companies. Because MySpace profiles are publicly viewable by default, they have often served to be popular and free outlets for bands. Fans and followers can listen to music and leave comments. Facebook Pages is just now beginning to offer this kind of functionality, and because a "Facebook Page" is differentiated from people's profiles pages, they can still maintain a degree of reality in their social network.