MyMistake – MySpace Does the Right Thing for the Wrong Reason

E-Commerce Times reports that:

In response to advertising industry concerns over security, MySpace.com has removed 200,000 “objectionable” profiles from its social network. The site erased profiles containing risque or hate speech content.

I’m quoted in the article, and I won’t repeat it all here, but let me expand on it…

This action by MySpace is a reaction to comments like this one (from Major Marketers Avoid MySpace):

Of six panelists representing major advertisers and ad agencies, not a single one advertised with MySpace or other social networking sites. Reasons for avoiding MySpace include concern about its potential for criminal use, especially given recent well-publicized reports about sexual predators searching for victims on the site, as well as fears that user-generated content–including pictures and text with sexual overtones–will be offensive.

“I wouldn’t be caught dead in that kind of environment,” said David Cohen, executive vice president for Universal McCann Interactive, with a client roster including Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Wendy’s International, and Sony Electronics. “You only have to look around for five or 10 minutes to find something offensive.”

They make a big deal of the fact that they found six people representing major brands that don’t advertise on MySpace. So what?!? I bet you could easily find six that don’t advertise in Playboy. or even Maxim for that matter. Or Sports Illustrated. Or, or or…

How about all the major brands that DO advertise there? Ironically, some of the companies mentioned above do advertise on MySpace as a result of syndicated ad networks.
– Microsoft (should’ve grabbed a screenshot – can’t seem to get it now, but I did before)
– Sony (Sony/BMG/Columbia artists are all over MySpace)
– Nike
– Panasonic
– Radio Shack
– Sprint
– AT&T
– E-Trade
– Verizon
– Cingular
– Nextel
– Energizer batteries
– Practically every pop/rock music label on the planet

It doesn’t seem that MySpace is having a hard time filling their ad inventory with major brands!

I agree that it’s pretty astounding that all six panelists don’t advertise there. But I think it’s astounding because they actually managed to find six advertising “experts” who feel that way. They’re obviously (see above) not representative of what major brands are actually doing. You want to see what’s really going on, “follow the money”. Just how “wholesome” do you need your cell phone provider to be, anyway?

I have no doubt that there were 200,000+ profiles on MySpace that violated their Terms of Use, which among other things, prohibit any content that:

1. is patently offensive and promotes racism, bigotry, hatred or physical harm of any kind against any group or individual;

4. contains nudity, violence, or offensive subject matter;

MySpace is well within their rights to delete these profiles. In fact, they should have been deleted a long time ago. It should have been no big deal – part of their ongoing business practices – rather than a reaction to advertiser concerns. Then they could have just quietly told advertisers that they were being more aggressive about enforcing their existing policies. Instead, by making a big deal of it, they have prompted negative reaction from users and even from industry analysts.

I don’t expect to see MySpace users leaving in droves (yet), but it just adds to the us-vs.-them mentality that has been growing ever since MySpace was bought by News Corp. And it was totally unnecessary. This shouldn’t have been a big deal – making it one was a big mistake.