Too many companies in the social web space have an unhealthy reliance on MySpace. The social networking site has become so popular, that companies who 'wigitize' their service -- so that it can be embedded on MySpace user-profiles -- hope to see a significant return, both in terms of traffic and visibility. For some companies, tapping into the MySpace eco-system provides an additional revenue stream, while for others, it's a lifeline. Getting blocked from MySpace can be the equivalent of turning off the life support machine.
The problem is, that up until now, MySpace has done a poor job at stating the Terms of Service which widgets need to comply with, if they're to avoid being blocked.
However, Mike Arrington, over at TechCrunch, has achieved the seemingly impossible, and got Fox Interactive (MySpace's parent company) to publicly explain the site's widget policy.
Widgets will be blocked, if they qualify on any of the following:
- Violate copyright
- Pose a security risk
- Engage in commercial activity
So, for example, in the recent high profile case of Revver videos being blocked, the company was engaging in commercial activity -- specifically through placing advertising inside of each video embedded on MySpace.
Whilst it's perfectly reasonable that MySpace doesn't want other companies to indirectly sell advertising on the site, "engaging in commercial activity" is the whole point of the MySpace eco-system, and that includes widgets as well as individual user profiles for bands, web celebs, and the like.
In an email to NewTeeVee, Revver community director Micki Krimmel, makes that very point:
"There is a larger conversation brewing around MySpace and what constitutes ‘commercial use.’ MySpace has become largely a marketing platform for many of its users. Banning all kinds of ‘commercial use’ would be largely impossible."
Could the solution be to charge a toll for accessing the MySpace eco-system? Fox Interactive says that's a road they have no intention of going down:
...we have no plans – current or future – to charge a “toll.” Third party widget providers just need to follow our terms of service…
Translation: don't engage in too much commercial activity.
Be aware of the MySpace eco-system.
Related post: Will MySpace try to monetize its ecosystem?