MySpace is no longer cool. As a matter of fact, its number of users is now one-half the size of rival Facebook. Is this because MySpace is too black for the rest of America? Teenage Internet users may hold the answer. High-schoolers report their use of the social-networking giants along racial lines—MySpace is seen as “black,” while Facebook is “white.” And even within the networks, black kids befriend other black kids, Latinos mix with Latinos, and the self-segregation often practiced in real life is rampant online. Danah Boyd, a social media researcher at Microsoft and a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, compares this dash from MySpace to Facebook to “white flight” from inner cities.
I joined MySpace when I was in grad school because all the undergrad kids were doing it. Then a couple years ago I was told by several friends that they were dumping MySpace in favor of Facebook because it was for kids who actually went to college. Almost overnight, MySpace was 'trashy.' At the time, it reminded me of the Chris Rock bit that goes something like: "Every town has the same two malls: the one white people go to and the one white people used to go to." Of course, that didn't stop me from deleting my MySpace page and signing up for Facebook. I followed the herd, because, well, that's where the herd was going. Call it White Flight 2.0. But what has apparently resulted in a division along racial lines I'd like to think wasn't caused by racial division, like White Flight of the 1960s. For my peers, class seemed to be the biggest factor. At least that's what we told ourselves. Though I'm not sure it makes much of a difference.