Heated Rivalries


Facebook vs. MySpace


I joined Facebook in 2004, when it was so new that it was possible to browse through the entire network alphabetically, page by page. So it has been slightly comical to watch the site skyrocket in popularity, almost uncontrollably, like Jim Carrey hanging on to that candle-snuffer in the trailer for A Christmas Carol. A million members! Twelve million! Three-freaking-hundred million! There’s no longer any stat the Palo Alto colossus could release that would surprise me. And then there’s MySpace. During the most steroidal period of Facebook’s growth, the News Corp. social network has stayed more or less flat. And it is easy to see why: while Facebook was spare and organized, MySpace pages were given to garish fonts and epilepsy-inducing images. Facebook went out of its way to appeal to your parents and grandparents; MySpace still felt dominated by high-schoolers, to the point that if any grown-up joined, it seemed like he probably hung out in a van offering candy to schoolchildren, too. (Disclosure: The CEO of The Washington Post Co., which owns NEWSWEEK, is on the board of Facebook, which is also a partner of our 20/10 project. But I would have made the pedophile joke anyway.) The latest user numbers: Facebook is more than double MySpace’s size worldwide, and in June finally took the lead in the United States. Once an archrivalry, this contest is kaput: “I really don’t view Facebook as a competitor,” MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta conceded recently, saying that his site will focus on entertainment content. 

Summers is a senior reporter for NEWSWEEK and blogger for Techtonic ShiftsFollow him on Tumblr.