Privacy Police

Myspace’s 50 Million User Profiles Now Belong to an Ad Targeting Firm

Myspace’s biggest asset is arguably its userbase of somewhere between 50 and 65 million people. Myspace posted a dozen data sets on the data marketplace Infochimps in March, with information on status updates, user activity, apps, photos and more, with prices ranging from $25 to $150.

To be clear, the data on Infochimps does not personally identify users. “The data MySpace sells through Infochimps is intended to help someone track certain types of behavior at a bird’s eye level, such as how many users are in certain zip codes and how many times a certain word is mentioned on the service. The records in these data sets are completely anonymous,” a representative wrote in an email.

But the acquisition today by Specific Media is quite different. They bought the profiles lock, stock and barrel. Now they will use them for their core business, ad targeting. Considering the going prices on Infochimps, Specific just got a great bargin, picking up between 50-65 million user profiles for about fifty cents a pop.

Like Facebook, Myspace holds on to data from inactive acounts. So even users who left long ago may now become an open book for Specific Media’s clients. The company recently won a court case brought against them for the use of flash cookies. These are the so called “super cookies” or “Lord Voldermort cookies” that the WSJ is always making a big deal about in their hand wringing What They Know series.

The truth is that this is a completely new situation. Never before has a social network of this size gone on the chopping block. Are personal details about medical history, sexuality and political orientation fair game for Specific to use in as they help clients, which range from hotels to auto dealers. What about that picture Kanye West sent of his dick?

According to it’s blog, “The company is an active and longstanding member of the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI)Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), and Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), coalitions committed to building consumer awareness and reinforcing responsible business and data management practices in the industry. Additionally, the company was the first to implement the Advertising Option Icon across its entire network, a proactive step that empowers consumers with a better understanding of and more control over the ads that they see.”

Will there be a new icon that let’s people know when the pre-roll ad in their video was sent to them based on their old Myspace profile they forget to get rid of? According to TechCrunch Myspace has already laid off 150 of its 400 employees and given another 150 a few weeks notice. It’s possible they are simply trimming own to skeleton staff before they try to initiate a turnaround. But its more likely Specific Media bought Myspace for its trove of personal data.

We have reached out to specific and their PR firm for comment and will update with any reply.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Well there may be 50 Million profiles but most of them are fake!  Guys pretending to be girls in the hope that they can trick other guys pretending to be girls into talking to them and/or sending them photos.

    How can you tell?  Look!  Look at the number of profiles that use the same photos. Photos of pretty girls, models, porn stars. 

    Worst part of the whole Myspace profile is they – Myspace – does nothing about it.  For example I can make a “space” with a photo of a lesser know movie star or model using a throw away e-mail account.   I call my self Suzie Cue and off I go.  There are no checks, no one verifies anything.

    Even if you recognize the person in the photo and tell Myspace, they do nothing.  They send you a notice saying that the person who appears in the photo must send a “salute” a photo showing that the other person is not who they say they are and are using YOUR photo.

    Short of  that, Myspace does not care about fraud, imposters or anything else.

    That is why they are in the crapper!

    1. In other news, Friendster relaunched.

    2. Anonymous says:

      As they say in advertising, perception is reality. Pseudonymous profiles are not fake; they just masked. Even when dealing with real full names, ad people need to unpick the hidden details. They’re very very good at it. So let’s not discount the value of massed OSN profiles. We should all be unnerved by the fact that from the outset MySpace, Facebook and the other informopolies have known the value of Personal Information and have worked surreptitiously to value-add it all the way along, by interconnecting it, and crowdsourcing their BI to unwitting fun loving members who now are even lured into calibrating facial recognition algorithms for free! MySpace miscalculated the market and are having to liquidate on the way down, but the others will be monetizing their PI assets more cleverly and carefully.
      Stephen Wilson, Lockstep, Australia.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It makes a lot of sense dude. Wow. I like the idea though.

  3. Luke Brady says:

    I deleted my Myspace profile years ago.  Deleted my FB profile last year.  Does that mean my info is or isn’t included in their deal?

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