June 12, 2013 was a dark day for Myspace – and the world. For on that fateful day, the transformation was complete. Myspace had become Justin Timberlake’s personal social network and mailing list.
User data was deleted en masse. The “classic” version of the site was removed with no warning. In JT’s new social network, there would be no room for the cluttered and ugly look of the old site.
Users lost messages from long-dead parents. Evidence used in active court cases was wiped. A decade’s worth of blog posts were removed. Games that users had invested thousands of dollars in were shut down. The Myspace cull was brutal.
Myspace users tried to log in to their accounts to recover messages from their loved ones. Instead, they were met with a giant, unsmiling photograph of Timberlake. Users could either “Join” or “Sign In”. There is no room for detractors on Myspace.
The Myspace help forums became a haven for wronged users. Over 10,000 individual posts appeared, crying foul over the mass loss of data. Any particularly vocal commenters were silenced, having their posts removed and some were even banned from the site.
Some Myspace staff members attempted to assuage the concerns of the thousands of users. “Blogs have not been moved to the new Myspace” was not considered a satisfactory response by the wronged users, and help threads were eventually marked by staff as “solved” even though they were anything but.
Justin Timberlake stayed unsmiling on the front page as the wake of the digital genocide continued.
For users who had previously had access to the closed beta release of new Myspace, the cult of personality was nothing new. For weeks, the site had one theme: Timberlake.
After the takeover was complete, the emails began. The first update email sent from new Myspace began with a striking black and white photograph of Justin Timberlake, clad in his dictatorial outfit of suit and tie.
Months later, Myspace hasn’t solved its Timberlake problem. The most active high-profile musician on the site remains Timberlake. The emails sent by Myspace to its users are overwhelmingly about Timberlake and his music.
Without users even liking Timberlake’s Myspace profile by “connecting” to him on the site, they continue to receive emails about his music and upcoming performance.
For the aggrieved users of “classic” Myspace, this new utopian vision of a social network apparently filled with Justin Timberlake fans is rubbing salt into the wounds of their deleted blogs, messages and games. As the Myspace emails advertising Justin Timberlake become more regular, it’s only a matter of time until his vision of a personal social network filled with photographs of his face is complete.