In July, News Corporation announced that it had purchased Intermix and all associated products for US$580 Million. Intermix owned and operated MySpace.com, one of the largest social portal sites on the internet boasting nearly 50 million members.
Everything was going along swimmingly for News Corporation, until they started censoring what their users were writing! It is the expectation that the internet is free and anyone can write just about anything and ultimately no one will care. It seems that News Corporation took offense to their users linking and discussing their competitors. When users would mention a competitor, the posts were being edited and the offending words, images and links deleted.
You would assume that MySpace were feeling threatened by their competitor and sought to weed it out of their site. Unfortunately, this manual intervention stirred the pot a little more than expected and a huge backlash followed. As soon as the backlash gained momentum, MySpace stopped censoring their clients information and restored all of the existing data – in fear of it escalating any further.
I think this would have been a very strong lesson learned for the new owners of MySpace. In an online business, even more so for a business driven by the power of social networking, you can’t suddenly go and change the rules. If you change the rules and your users don’t like it – your competitor is only ever a handful of keystrokes away.