Sociologist: MySpace 'White Flight' Boosted Facebook

The choice became 'racialized,' she says
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2010 2:36 PM CDT
Facebook is about to reach 500 million users.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Facebook's trouncing of MySpace is rooted in race, writes sociologist Danah Boyd in an upcoming book. (GigaOm has the draft of a key chapter in PDF form here.) Boyd says young people began leaving MySpace in droves in 2007 (she quotes one complaining it became ghetto") and likens it to "white flight" from inner-city neighborhoods. “Facebook went beyond simple consumer choice; it reflected a reproduction of social categories that exist in schools throughout the United States. Because race, ethnicity and socio-economic status shape social categories, the choice between MySpace and Facebook became racialized.”

Read the chapter for full context, but at GigaOm, Mathew Ingram isn't sold on the argument. "Without exhaustive demographic analysis of the user bases of MySpace and Facebook—which even Boyd admits she has not done—it’s impossible to say what role race might have played in the rise of one and the fall of the other. It could just as easily be explained by looking at the obvious differences between the two sites and what they had to offer users, regardless of what color those users were."

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