The Failure of Myspace

Aaron Cecchini-Butler
3 min readAug 20, 2018

I was in middle school once. And I remember, quite clearly, setting up my myspace account.

Fast forward a few months and I remember learning basic HTML to create a background of penguins sliding on their stomachs across the screen.

I also remember the constant drama attached to deciding on your top 8 friends, and, even worse, seeing yourself inexplicably demoted on a friend’s page.

I remember being of the generation that first learned (created?) the unspoken rules of looking at the pictures of someone you found attractive, and navigating what was acceptable to say while chatting late at night versus in school the next morning.

And while chatting, I remember looking up shortcuts for how to make penguin faces (I had a thing…).

To this day I still remember (“)>

In my opinion, Myspace did a great service to the world in really originating the idea of social media. However, they made a few assumptions that I believe led to their eventual downfall.

  1. Ranking friends isn’t fun — I believe that this feature led to the feeling so many of us angsty teens had while logging on. The anxiety and fear attached to your social status. An anxiety that every generation has felt, but has never been exposed to in such a blatant way. The value of your friendship ranked by friends. The possibility for that rank to drop at any second. The lack of explanation for the constantly shifting dynamics. Facebook didn’t present this option, giving it a feeling of safety. (Ironic, considering its origins!)
  2. Customization is great, let’s allow infinite amounts — There are times where I do miss the ability to decorate my profile page. I enjoyed learning the basic HTML and realizing I could make my name glow, and make my About Me scroll like a Star Wars intro. I can tell you when I don’t miss that option: whenever I look at someone else’s page. The chaos that immediately ensued the discovery of Myspace profile page customization was a visual onslaught the likes of which we’d never seen. Every page you went to was a circus of broken code, and moving objects. Made worse by the fact that you were only there in the first place to check your top 8 status. Facebook allows customization of written content. You get to pick your pictures and banners, but the layout is the same for everyone, and that is what made it feel accessible to so many more people.
  3. An extension of #2, the profile song — Perhaps I’m alone in this, but there are few things as irritating as clicking a link to have music blasted at you. Especially when you’re in a public space. On the flip side of this, the hours spent searching for the one song that defines your existence…why?

Final assumption Myspace made:

4. That Facebook meant everyone wanted to be done with Myspace — I can’t claim to know the business details that went behind the decision to basically turn Myspace into a music platform, but I know plenty of people who felt as if they were being kicked off of myspace and forced to use FB. Perhaps both could have existed?

Oh yeah, who the hell was Tom?



Aaron Cecchini-Butler

Senior Systems Designer at Grubhub working on Cookbook (our design system) — as well as contributing to product design work.