Wall Street Journal Senior Technology Editor Julia Angwin recently took an investigative look at the back-stories of MySpace founders Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson, who prior to founding the social networking and glitter-gif bohemoth dabbled in porn, hacking, spam and spyware before stumbling on their mega-million-dollar meal ticket. The book is called Stealing Myspace and you can find it here or at an independent bookseller in your neighborhood.
SFist pulled Julia aside for a few questions:
SFist: How did MySpace cannibalize, or in your eyes improve upon, what Friendster created in terms of social networking in the early aughts?
Julia Angwin: MySpace noticed that Friendster was deleting accounts of "Fakesters" -- or people who were not who they claimed to be. MySpace saw the Fakesters as an opportunity and welcomed them onto its site. The freedom of MySpace has proved extremely popular - there are dozens of people pretending to be Britney Spears or Rupert Murdoch on the site at any given time. Of course, there have also been many stoires of people who have donned the MySpace mask of anonymity to ill effect.
It's interesting to note that Facebook has returned to the old Friendster model. It seems that people want both kinds of online venues - places to be anonymous, such as MySpace, and places to be their real selves, such as Facebook.