It's 2021, and MySpace somehow managed to find itself in Saturday Night Live's cold open.
Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower, was in the news on Tuesday after she testified in front of Congress. SNL decided to seize this moment and criticize out-of-touch Senators who asked Haugen dumb tech-dumb questions.
The final punchline features Pete Davidson, a cast member playing Tom Anderson (MySpace's "OG social media king") as the appearance.
The SNL live audience erupted into cheers when Davidson appeared on screen as Tom in his MySpace avatar, his white teshirt and face turned toward the camera.
"I'm Tom from MySpace," Davidson states. Remember me? "I was innocent."
Is that really true? MySpace was really harmless?
Listen, I get it. It's a joke in a comedy show. The sketch was made possible by Tom's appearance. That was it?
However, the notion that MySpace was the "good old days of the internet" is still a valid idea.
This is a bizarre reimagining that a social media company wasn't chasing profits, selling out users, or retiring after making a small amount of money.
It's as wrong as it can be.
User data is a common criticism of Facebook and other social media platforms. These companies gather information about you to lure advertisers with the money-making data.
MySpace also collected your data to place ads. These profiles were filled out by you, providing your personal information to the company. Many of you also posted your heartfelt comments on the website, including your age and location.
What did Tom of MySpace do to your personal data? Rupert Murdoch (the man who runs Fox News) received all of it for $580 million.
It's funny how, after a series of acquisitions over the years your MySpace data (or whatever is left of it, we'll get back to that in a second) now sits in Viant's hands as an advertising tech company.
What access did advertisers have to your data? It sufficed that each person could be identified by their full names using a user ID.
Remember those Facebook employees spying on users? MySpace employees also did this.
This isn't just about data privacy. Many of the social media problems we see today can be traced back to Tom.
From where do you believe toxic social media culture originated? MySpace was the first platform to create problematic internet celebrities. MySpace is the perfect example for someone who is somebody, like Jeffree Star, the controversial make-up artist who was accused of sexual assault.
SNL's "Tom From MySpace" joke is more outrageous, considering that the Senate's Facebook hearing was about child safety. MySpace is the OG when it comes to the damage social media causes to young people.
MySpace has had problems for years with sex offenders using the site to prey upon children. Stories emerged of teens being attacked in real life by adult MySpace friends. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut's attorney general, was the one who spearheaded the effort to address the MySpace issue. Blumenthal, currently sitting U.S. Senator, is the reason that this name may sound familiar. The Senator who was famous for misunderstanding the term "finsta", at the recent Facebook hearing.
MySpace was full of models who posted the same kind of unflattering body images as you can find on Instagram. Is it really possible to imagine that a site known for its scene kids and emo users doesn't have problems with self-harming? The platform was also a hot topic at the time due to the high number of suicide-prone young girls. A 49-year old mother was tried for bullying a 13 year-old girl on MySpace.
Self-harm and depression are not MySpace issues. These issues are not MySpace problems, but the myth that they didn't exist is a distortion of reality.
Vice noted that in 2020, one of the tweets about MySpace's greatness went viral and Vice said that we, the former MySpace users, were only younger than then, so we chose to focus on the fond memories.
Nostalgia can change the way you remember the past. In the SNL sketch, Davidson played the role of Tom from MySpace, saying that they don't maintain the site and that you should "come by and see your friend's band 20 years ago."
Here's the strange part: Have any of you visited MySpace in recent times? SNL hasn't, and you won't be able to do that either! MySpace's current owners had to reboot the site and delete 12 years of photos and music.
You can now request an archive of all data, photos, videos and posts on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform. You can also access them offline, regardless of what happens on other social media platforms. MySpace didn’t care to warn you that it was destroying your memories. MySpace has long since deleted the music of your friend's band from 20-years ago.
MySpace should not be given a pass, either because the current platforms are more financially stable or because some issues weren't present in MySpace's early days. Tom took his money, and then fucked off, releasing any responsibility for the mess he made. This is not something to be proud of.
Tom from MySpace wasn't your friend. Tom from MySpace actually sold you out.