Facebook and MySpace class distinctions

On: June 26, 2007
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About Anne Helmond
Anne Helmond is Assistant Professor of New Media and Digital Culture and Program Director of the MA New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam. She is a member of the Digital Methods Initiative research collective where she focuses her research on the infrastructure of social media platforms and apps. Her research interests include digital methods, software studies, platform studies, app studies, infrastructure studies and web history.


danah boyd recently wrote an interesting article on “viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace.” She points out that class divisions have emerged and are being played out through aesthetics in Facebook and MySpace. I think this is one of the most interesting points in the article because I tend to “judge” the quality of social networking sites and the people on them just based on the looks of the site. I prefer Facebook and LinkedIn over MySpace and Hyves because of their clean aesthetic looks. The extremely messy look of MySpace and Hyves and it’s abundant use of smileys and animated gifs make the sites look “cheap and unprofessional” to me. I tend to see Facebook and Linked as professional sites because of their clean, elegant and crisp looks.

Do you also judge sites by their looks? Do aesthetics influence your choice in joining a social networking site?

5 Responses to “Facebook and MySpace class distinctions”
  • June 27, 2007 at 3:44 am

    I definitely judge websites by their appearances! But for the MySpace vs. Facebook debate, my preference for Facebook has just as much, if not more, to do with functionality.

    MySpace is so aggravatingly klugey I can barely touch it without getting annoyed–but Facebook is a pleasure to use.

    But I guess I can see why teens might be more concerned with where their social group is and the reflection of their self-identity than with performance. Did that sound really condescending? I’m sure there are Facebook-loving teenagers who like it for the usability too.

    But what I’m saying is this: I was probably one of the less “socially obsessed” teenagers in my high school (or at least I like to think so), but I joined the German Club, even though I took Spanish and couldn’t speak a lick of German. I never joined the Spanish Club. Why? My best friend was in the German Club and I didn’t like any of my Spanish classmates.

  • June 27, 2007 at 11:34 am

    I think identification is definitely an issue. You identified with your friend instead of with your Spanish classmates. This issue of identification might take even bigger forms as Tony Hung from Deep Jive Interests points out in “Will The “Danah” Report Be The Kiss of Death To MySpace’s Valuation?” Does Yahoo want to identify itself with the MySpace outcast?

  • June 27, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    Ah but your aesthetic judgement is in turn at least partly shaped by class (see Bourdieu).

  • June 27, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    dailykos had a piece up on democrats being mac users and republicans pc. people get very touchy about these things judging by the comments to that article.

    @anne surely the danah report isn’t telling myspace and facebook anything they don’t already know. their whole existence is built on knowing what, if not who, their users are.

    I haven’t read the report but can’t imagine that this is much of a surprise, given that facebook was for college-kids only for so long (and didn’t myspace grow so fast because of its association with alternative music?).

  • June 27, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    The interesting thing that while this all seems “obvious” and isn’t “new” knowledge it is currently one of the biggest threads in the blogosphere. On top of that some of the comments danah boyd has received are far from “friendly” to say the least.

    I think it’s interesting to see that something that we take for granted is spreading like it is the newest all-revealing meme.

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