How did Myspace react to the success of Facebook

Lobes Digitalfabrik: What if Facebook shuts down?

Does anyone remember MySpace? The social network was the most visited website in the US from 2006 to 2008. You shared status, videos, music, games and networked with friends. As a little gimmick, you could even see the number of profile visits. But then came Facebook - and with it the demise of MySpace. The page is still available; there is arguably a hard core of the community. But the social network is practically dead. Buried in the internet cemetery. Like so many social networks that didn't survive the rise of Facebook.

Founded in 2002, Friendster turned down a $ 30 million takeover bid from Google in 2003, was sold in 2015 and turned into an online game. The Google+ social network, which was supposed to compete with Facebook, was discontinued in 2019. And the days of StudiVZ, which was bought by Holtzbrinck for 85 million euros in 2007, are numbered - the network was switched off in 2019 and transferred to the new platform (the little sister SchuelerVZ was taken offline in 2007). Yahoo's web hosting service Geocities, on which websites were organized according to thematic neighborhoods (opera and classical music fans met in Vienna), was closed in 2009. Friendster, MySpace and Co are the addresses of sunken cities in cyberspace.

The scientists David Garcia, Pavlin Mavrodiev and Frank Schweitzer from ETH Zurich analyzed the disintegration of social networks in a study a few years ago. According to this, the stability or resilience of social networks depends on two factors: on the one hand on the cost-benefit factor, on the other hand on the degree of networking. If several users of a node leave the network and an entire subnetwork collapses, this can set in motion a cascade of churn. In the case of Friendster, it was a redesign that caused a wave of withdrawals and broke the neck of the social network.

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Who knows how the Internet would have developed if MySpace had grown and crushed Facebook competition. Perhaps then there would have been no Brexit and no election of Trump as US president. Certainly, this is speculative, but it is worth playing through such causal relationships in your head.

The question is: could Facebook suffer the same fate as Friendster? The ETH researchers do not want to commit themselves in their study because various factors play a role and the individual dynamics are difficult to predict. It is true that Facebook lost 15 million users in the US between 2017 and 2019. In terms of the user base - Facebook has over two billion members worldwide - that is an affordable loss.

The aging Facebook community may die out one day

There is still plenty of room for growth. Facebook is working in cooperation with local telecommunications providers to network the more than three billion people worldwide without an Internet connection. The offline community is a huge niche in the market. As long as Facebook continues to grow in emerging and developing countries, it can compensate for the loss of users in industrialized nations. In addition, by integrating WhatsApp and Instagram, the group has created incentives to keep users on its platform. However, there is no certainty that Facebook will still be around ten years from now. The digital economy is highly dynamic.