White Flight on social networks

Interesting observation made over at Transcosmic that the swift migration from Myspace to Facebook rivals the same social patterns indicative of white flight from cities to the suburbs in the past. 

At a keynote speech during New York’s Democracy forum at Lincoln Center, Danah Boyd spoke of the racial disparity and possible reasons for mass abandonment of MySpace for the “more cultured” and “less cheesy” social networking site Facebook. Boyd, a social media researcher for Microsoft and fellow of the Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet and Society, stated: “We might as well face an uncomfortable reality … what happened was modern day ‘white flight’.”

Boyd also observed that: “The fact that digital migration is revealing the same social patterns as urban white flight should send warning signals to all of us. It should scare the hell out of us.”

What he doesn’t mention in the piece is the reasons many people left Myspace for Facebook.  In my particular case, the preponderance of profile spam – hookers, bands, automusic tracks, ads plastered over 80% of the screen, etc. etc. became overwhelming on Myspace. 

Facebook was a place that I could manage a digital rolodex of friends, aquintances, and contacts without worry.  The user-interface is far superior.  With that said, this isn’t a race issue per say, despite the user profiles.  If Facebook ends up doing the same things as Myspace, you’ll their user-base crumble as well. 

Update: Just found the original paper, “The Not-So-Hidden Politics of Class Online,” the article was based upon and it’s much more nuanced and a far better read than Transcosmic’s piece.

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