MySpace Beginning to Block Widgets?

    February 27, 2007

One of the primary reasons that MySpace has achieved such success in the realm of social networking is the ability for users to customize their profiles with layouts, music, videos, and assorted other widgets.

As the number of MySpace users continues to grow, however, the company is becoming less inclined to allow third parties to use their social networking site as a marketing platform for their services. Last weekend, MySpace began blocking widgets from Vidlife, Stickam, Revver, and Imeem.

Michael Arrington at TechCrunch offers insight as to why MySpace is now beginning to block these outside widgets:

Industry insiders have said (and continue to say) that MySpace has had enough of building third party widget providers into massive businesses. They say MySpace is preparing to block all widget providers over time and will let only those who pay a “toll” back in. MySpace PR denies this as well, saying that the January block was a developer error, and not commenting at all on the recent service-specific blockages.

Julie Henderson, SVP Corporate Communications at Fox Interactive disagrees with the assertion that MySpace plans to charge a “toll” to widget providers. In an e-mail response to Arrington, she gives alternative reasoning for the decision to block the widgets:

If a widget violates our TOS, we block them. Breaches would include any person, widget or software that violates copyright, poses security risks, distributes pornography or engages in commercial activity. Commercial activity includes selling ads on a MySpace page through their widget or software.

In the instance of Revver specifically, we told them we were going to block them if they continued to sell ads on our pages. They refused to stop selling ads on our pages – so we blocked them. No mystery there.

Also, we have no plans – current or future – to charge a “toll.” Third party widget providers just need to follow our terms of service…

Toll or no toll, it’s clear that Fox isn’t going to allow third parties to just waltz in and market to their enormous user base through these widgets, which ultimately amount to free advertising in the eyes of the top brass at MySpace.

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