As MySpace announces a massive data loss Getintothis’ Philip Newton fondly looks back to a time when things were much simpler.
In horrifying news to social media users of a certain age, MySpace has announced a massive data loss – posting on its site the blunt announcement: ‘As a result of a server migration project, any photos, videos, and audio files you uploaded more than three years ago may no longer be available on or from MySpace. We apologize for the inconvenience.’
It’s believed that over 50 million songs posted by 14 million users may have disappeared foreverwith this loss.
MySpace was bought by NewsCorp in 2005 for $580m (£437m). It was sold in 2011 for $35m to ad targeting firm Specific Media.
Speculation has arisen over this seemingly huge digital gaffe – most notably from Kickstarter’s Andy Baio, who seems to suggest that MySpace may have even enacted this deliberately.
I’m deeply skeptical this was an accident. Flagrant incompetence may be bad PR, but it still sounds better than “we can’t be bothered with the effort and cost of migrating and hosting 50 million old MP3s.”
— Andy Baio (@waxpancake) March 18, 2019
Either way, by means careless or devious, the data loss will certainly resonate with millions.
Indeed, I remember the Liverpool music scene certainly leaning on MySpace very heavily in the mid-noughties – every band or club night would have their own relatively garish dedicated page.
All of that gone – as if 2019 has snapped its fingers like an even less forgiving online Thanos.
Such online self-promotion on a digital platform was merely a taster of what was to come, obviously, but it felt at the time to be a genuinely novel and new way to reach a receptive and interested audience.
I mean, the only sites before it were Friends Reunited and the protracted digital torture of navigating Geocities, so compared to these monstrosities MySpace was a revelation.
There seemed to be something more concentrated with MySpace – perhaps due to internet access effectively being limited to computer-use only at its peak, with mobile technology still in its pre-‘smart’ phase of indestructible Nokias et al.
Because of this more “sit down” nature, perhaps the pages were taken notice of more – there was not as much passive osmosis as you get with Facebook and Soundcloud these days.
It’s difficult to imagine reading MySpace on the toilet in 2006, for example. Not impossible – but difficult.
It is also fair to say that MySpace was, in its own way, an absolute riot.
You could effectively smash code into your page to make it do anything. Crazy backgrounds, unreadable, glittering fonts – when you could get an .mp3 to automatically play every time visited your page, all bets were off.
This made for quite an unpredictable experience, obviously – from one friend’s page being quite quaint, to another’s having a background of skulls leaking blood whilst an abnormally amplified rendition of The Poddington Peas theme tune burst out.
Perhaps, then, Facebook’s quite sterile uniformity was the antidote – and more commercially viable evolution.
Lest we forget also the sheer political manoeuvering of the Top 8 friends section. That could be an absolute minefield. A visible, changeable league table of friends. That was brutal.
And so, this surely means the end for MySpace; its use as an online archive for past misadventures has now been wiped clean.
MySpace is not alone in its courting of controversy in the Social Media platform scrum, of course.
Last week, for example, it was revealed that Facebook stored hundreds of millions of users passwords in plaintext – making them searchable by some 2,000 Facebook employees and greatly increasing any security risk.
Twitter, as well, is regularly under the spotlight as being a portal for aggressive online bullying.
Both Facebook and Twitter were also implicated in the furore over the alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 US Presidential Elections. This goes some way as to indicate just how important these platforms have become in our smartphone fixated society – a legacy of MySpace’s trailblazing, perhaps.
Perhaps this is a precursor to the rest of the social media giants – will Facebook and Twitter still be here in 50 years time, a literal portal for our offspring to see the follies of our past lives?
Time will tell.
But certainly, right now, I feel a little poorer for having my MySpace memories wiped away like tears in the rain.