There has been a lot of talk lately about a much needed alternative to Facebook. In fact the idea of creating a new system has become so popular that one group of students formed a group known as Diaspora which has already managed to raise over $150,000 to build the alternative. However, there is already an alternative, it’s called MySpace and sure it looks like a site from 2005, but they are once again trying to lure in Facebook visitors by attaching themselves to what visitors care most about, secure privacy settings that are simple to use.
According to a statement released today by MySpace, visitors will now see their accounts set to “friends only” when they sign up for the service, ensuring no information is shared that users want to keep private.
MySpace says the new setting will also affect any user who “previously had any granular page setting to ‘friends only'” and that changing the setting for all other users will be a simple process, unless the hidden options found on Facebook.
MySpace has been making a public attempt to tie themselves into privacy concerns, including the ability to more easily see when updates are posted to the public and when messages are set to friends only. Users can also set their profiles to “18 or over” if they are a bit less “friendly” or if they want to avoid younger audiences from following them.
The new privacy settings are an about face for the company which last year encouraged users to make their profiles public, encouraging them to do so as much as possible. As Mashable points out, with the “Like” button being announced and Instant Personalization features reaching the world of Facebook, MySpace attempts at opening up profiles was largely ignored, a move that could help their image today.
MySpace has even managed to take jabs at Facebook, Co-president Mike Jones said on the MySpace blog:
“We respect our users’ desires to balance sharing and privacy, and never push our users to an uncomfortable privacy position.”
Jones also attacks the Facebook Instant Personalization service:
“MySpace’s core value of allowing self-expression and representation of yourself remains true, without the fear that your unique contribution to MySpace will be unknowingly used for an alternative purpose.”
Oddly enough, the new privacy changes have not yet been implemented at MySpace and won’t be for weeks.
MySpace has also announced in the last few months that they are repositioning themselves as an entertainment hub for social networking, perhaps now would be a good time to enter talks with Zynga (makers of Farmville and Mafia Wars) who may be planning to leave Facebook over anger that they are being forced to use Facebook Credits and because they must now pay to send notifications to Facebook users.
MySpace can bill themselves as a social network alternative that allows for more than viewing pictures and updating your status, they could be a low cost gaming alternative by agreeing to take less of a stake in Facebook gaming companies for the right to carry their brands, while providing videos, comedy, music and other forms of entertainment.
Is MySpace perfect? Far from it, but with the millions of dollars invested into the companies systems, I’m willing to bet they can offer a stronger alternative than a $150,000 system. Not to say Diaspora won’t be an interesting open source alternative to Facebook, but why is it that as Facebook users many of us are angry but just sitting around waiting for something to happen when there is already an alternative available to us.