Debunking the MySpace Myth of 100 Million Users

The hype around the ‘web 2.0’ buzzword continues to grow and grow. From bullshit statements like 85% of college students use Facebook (umm no, that was when less than half of US colleges were supported, yet everyone continues to cite that magical number) to PhotoBucket drives 2% of US internet traffic (again, umm no – peak traffic is no reflection of sustained throughput), no one seems to be fact checking any more.

The latest annoyance has been the self-indulgent claim of web 2.0 bloggers that MySpace has 100,000,000 users. Interestingly, this specific headline says accounts, but the article and subsequent
articles all say users. I would say that anyone with half a clue knows that ‘accounts’ are not the same as ‘users’, but that would be obvious, wouldn’t it?

So to do some quick little debunking (and spreading some new numbers), I decided to do a quick an dirty analysis. I was going to check 303 random MySpace profiles and classify them into one of the following six types:

  1. Invalid Friend ID error
  2. Has not logged in since creation date (you can figure that out when
    you see multiple users in a row)
  3. Logged in for upto a week after creation
  4. Logged in for upto a month after creation
  5. Last logged in within the last month
  6. Last logged in within the last week

It goes without saying that #1-#2 are not real users, #3-#4 were just checking out what the hype is, #5 may still be a real user, and #6 is reflective of a ‘real’ user (especially in the social networking scene).

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The sample chosen was simple. The 100 millionth account was as follows:
Just replace the friendid value, and we can look up any specific user id.

So we looked at accounts 25,000,000-25,000,100 , 50,000,000-50,000,100, and 100,000,000-100,000,100.

The results were, to say the least, underwhelming:

Don’t like bar graphs? Why don’t we try a beautiful pie graph:

Whew. Looks like the popular claim that MySpace has 100,000,000 users is hot air. More than 50% can’t even bother to visit again after a month. Based on assuming that type 5 and type 6 are the real ‘users’ of
MySpace, it turns out that MySpace really has roughly 43,000,000 users. Very unscientific? Yep. More accurate than the 100,000,000 myth? Damn straight. The 100,000,000 number is inflated by 133%.

So to those that have been tossing around this magical number … well, the truth shall set you free.

In all situations we erred on the side in favor of MySpace

P.S. – I like TechCrunch and Mashable, but as two of the biggest web 2.0 blogs, I expect them to be a bit more careful before making big claims that have no substance.

MySpace Data

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