If you’re too successful then the media starts looking closely to find your warts. MySpace joins a long list of companies now feeling the real heat of negative press after a kind of Icarus climb to the sun. After many glowing industry stories about page views and time on site, etc., JupiterResearch came out and said that MySpace traffic/counts were inflated. Then the mainstream media backlash began. To date that’s been focused on stalkers and pedophiles using MySpace to target potential victims.
But now comes this story about how MySpace (and other networking sites) are being used to plan potential terrorist attacks. I’m not talking here about whether the underlying facts are true. I’m discussing the downward PR spiral that now seems to have MySpace firmly in its grip. So far it hasn’t hurt the site’s usage. But too much more negative press may hurt it as a potential promotional vehicle for Fox or brands that may want to get at its youthful audience.
There’s been considerable talk of the risks of associating brands with user-generated content and social networks. They’re unpredictable and volatile unlike traditional media. But the danger now for Fox and other potential advertisers is that MySpace becomes permanently associated with all this unseemly activity (regardless of whether the underlying allegations are factually correct).
This is a fascinating thing to watch from my point of view.
Here’s a Vanity Fair piece on the founders and the history of MySpace. It’s generally flattering.