Did you pour your heart out on a MySpace blog and make hourly checks on your Friends total? Now the social network has been accused of erasing the personal histories of its dedicated members after a $20 million relaunch designed to bury its past and attract a new teenage audience.
The music-centred platform, which helped launch Lily Allen to fame and attracted 100 million users at its 2007 peak, is seeking to climb out of the social network “graveyard” after years of being a source of digital derision.
The site, lacking innovation and overtaken by Facebook, shed users and was abandoned by Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corporation had bought the company in a disastrous $580 million deal.
Backed by new investors, including singer Justin Timberlake, Myspace (after dropping the capital ‘S’) has been rebranded as a music-streaming service, with a new sleek interface, and an iPhone app for radio play and animated GIF creation.
The new Myspace has shown signs of life, attracting 31 million unique visitors and one million app downloads since a high-profile relaunch last month.
However its owners do not appear to want those loyal users, who stuck around even when MySpace became a tarnished brand, to spoil the party for its new target audience of young “millenials”.
Furious users complained that Myspace has erased all of their blogs, private messages, videos, comments and posts, when they try and log-in to the new site.
Myspace veterans, whose lives have been marked out by the blogs and photos posted daily over nearly a decade, are threatening a class-action lawsuit over what they see as the destruction of their personal histories.
One disgruntled member wrote: “I was a loyal user who never deserted Myspace. I used it almost everyday since 2006. I wrote hundreds of blogs that, to my horror, were simply gone as of last night with no prior warning given. That is no way to treat us. Please give us a chance to recover old blogs. This is like losing family photographs, and it is really horrible.”
Another posted on the site’s forum: “This is no different than losing one’s writing or photographs in a house fire, and I am feeling awful right now.” “You in essence just stole our blogs without permission to delete them. How dare you!,” complained another user.
Myspace, bought for just $35 million in 2011 by Timberlake and the Specific Media Group, told users that it had made changes to create a “better experience.” The company said: “That means you won’t see a few products on the new site. We know that this is upsetting to some but it gives us a chance to really concentrate on creating a new experience for discovery and expression.”
The “year zero” approach extends to stars who once built huge followings through MySpace. Britney Spears, who enjoyed 1.5 million Friends on the old MySpace, found her new “Connections” count set to 0.
Myspace won’t mind irritating 30-somethings who enjoyed sharing family photos if the network maintains a positive buzz from younger users since the relaunch, which featured the rapper Pharrell in a major advertising campaign.
The new app is ranked among the Top 20 social networking apps and the site makeover received positive feedback on Twitter.
Yet Myspace has been forced to respond to the backlash from its loyal users. “Change isn’t easy and there has been a lot going on lately,” the company said. It told angry members: “We understand that this (blog) information is very important to you. Please understand that your blogs have not been deleted. Your content is safe and we have been discussing the best ways possible to provide you your blogs.” Pictures and music playlists can be located and transferred over to the new Myspace, the company added.
Founded in 2003 by a team of California web pioneers led by Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe, MySpace generated $800 million in revenue by 2008. Arctic Monkeys were among the bands who used the network’s music-sharing feature as a springboard for success.