The Investigator’s Guide to Social Media introduces popular social media platforms and how information shared on these platforms can benefit investigators. In this installment, we’ll be discussing why one should be investigating Myspace.
What is Myspace?
Founded in 2003, Myspace allows users to post personal profiles and share photos, music, and videos. Users were also initially able to post personal blogs. The novelty of the site and its rich content were a significant factor in making Myspace the most popular website in the United States in 2006, briefly surpassing Google search.
Recently, Myspace has reinvented itself as a curated site for showcasing artists, musicians, and entertainers. Over the years, Myspace housed 53 million songs from more than 14 million artists worldwide. Even so, since its heyday, Myspace has suffered a steep decline, losing the majority of its former users to Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, and, more recently, Snapchat and TikTok.
Nonetheless, as writer Jeremy Barr stated in a 2016 Ad Age article, Myspace remains valuable to investigators.
“These days, Myspace, the dominant social media network before being upstaged by Facebook, is valuable mostly for its data. Myspace still has a billion registered users around the world, and the data on those users is a hot commodity.”
How does Myspace work?
Like many social media platforms, Myspace allows users to create personalized profile pages to share different types of content: videos, music, and photos in compilations called Mixes. Each post can only have one kind of content: songs, videos, links, or photos. Different types of content cannot be combined in a single post.
Users can also cross-post from Myspace to Twitter and Facebook – but not from either platform back to Myspace. Myspace is accessible from desktop and laptop computers, as well as mobile tablets and phones. However, many Myspace functions – including blocking and unblocking, can only be executed with a computer.
Users can view activities and play Mixes from public profiles. However, users must be connected to comment on each other’s posts. Users can also block others from connecting or commenting on their content and create private profiles to limit visibility only to users they are connected to directly.
- Public Profile – Anyone can view public profiles. Several account types are public by default: musician, filmmaker, DJ / producer, brand, venue, and comedian.
- Restricted Profile – Restricted profiles can only be viewed by users who are connected to them. Users younger than 16 are assigned restricted profiles by default.
- Verified Profile – Profiles marked with a blue flag recognize users whose identities have been verified. Users cannot apply for Verified Profile status.
- Connections – Users who are connected can comment on one another’s profiles, share email, and communicate by instant message.
- Mixes – Mixes are a user’s photos, playlists, and collections of videos.
- Blocking – Blocked users cannot connect or comment with the user(s) who have blocked them but are still able to view public profiles.
Who uses Myspace?
When Time purchased Viant, then the parent company for Myspace, the site recorded about 250 million email addresses across the United States in its database. However, as of 2019, Myspace only attracted about 7 million unique monthly visitors.
According to a now-deleted page from the Myspace website, the demographics for the platform are skewed slightly older than those of its competitors.
Distribution of Myspace User by Age
One interesting observation: according to a 2020 article posted by Daily Dot updated from 2014 – Myspace has emerged as a prominent marketing outlet for sex workers.
What is shared on Myspace?
Due to the detailed information users include on their platforms, Myspace can be a rich resource for investigators. Users on Myspace share their real names, email addresses, location, and date of birth. In addition, by selecting Account Types and posting content, users add to the information they share. Investigators can often verify Myspace profile information by checking cross-postings from Facebook and Twitter.
How does one search Myspace?
Investigators can search for a subject’s Myspace profile using the individual’s name, username, or email address. Profile photos and locations associated with users’ accounts can also aid in obtaining needed information.
Is Myspace useful for investigations?
Despite the decline of Myspace among social media platforms, it remains a valuable tool for investigators. While it’s not a likely source for current information, it can be excellent in aiding research for older cases or building lifestyle patterns. A recent phenomenon is the return of users to Myspace to dig up old photos to share on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for #ThrowbackThursday posts.