Facebook ‘Sparked White Flight From MySpace’

News Digital Media (Sydney), July 2, 2009

A “WHITE flight” to Facebook has turned MySpace into a black ghetto, according to a social analyst in the US.

Danah Boyd said Facebook’s arrival sparked a migration from MySpace of white users, the educated and the wealthy, while non-whites had stuck together on MySpace.

MySpace is owned by News Corp, the parent company of the publisher of NEWS.com.au.

“It wasn’t just anyone who left MySpace to go to Facebook,” Ms Boyd, who works with Microsoft Research New England, told a crowd at New York’s Democracy Forum.

“We might as well face an uncomfortable reality . . . what happened was modern day ‘white flight’.”

Ms Boyd said MySpace had become a digital “ghetto”.

“The people there are more likely to be brown or black and to have a set of values that terrifies white society,” she said.

Her interviews with American teenagers since 2006 showed that online migration mimicked the patterns of class groups’ movements across cities.

She found teens who preferred Facebook were far more likely to talk down to those who use MySpace than vice versa.

Ms Boyd said her research showed high school students found Facebook “more cultured” and “less cheesy” than MySpace.

“Any high school student who has a Facebook page will tell you MySpace users are more likely to be barely educated and obnoxious,” she said.

Ms Boyd also warned that the class divisions on social sites will harden over time.

“Their decision to (move to Facebook) was wrapped up in their connections to others, in their belief that a more peaceful, quiet, less-public space would be more idyllic.”

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