Fake your space with fake friends February 28, 2007Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Arto, Fakers, Friendship, MySpace, Social Networking, Web 2.0, Youth Culture.
Last year I read a post on Michael Zimmer’s blog about a new social networking service called Fake Your Space that offers purchase of fake and hot friends for MySpace profiles in order to seem popular. Yesterday the Danish online magazine Computerworld.dk spotted the website and wrote an article about it. Today I was interviewed by the Danish radio P3 (P3 Nyheder) and the newspaper dato about what I think of the service and why friends are so important on social networking sites.
First of all, I think that the profiles the site offers are so clearly fake and model like that other users would probably be sceptical of the users who have bought the fakers and listed them as friends. Also, other people’s friend lists are often used to find new friends. What happens when someone tries to add one of the fakers to their own profile?
In relation to my investigation on Arto I think that a service like this would have some problems succeeding in Denmark. This is due to the strong resistance against fakers that I found among the users on Arto. Here it is all about being ‘real’ and showing off ‘real’ friendships. Creating a fake profile is considered almost a crime and ‘faker’ profiles are sanctioned by several messages in the guest book crying out “faker”, “beat it, faker” or pointing out the false aspects of the profiles (like false pictures, names, ages, spelling errors, sloppiness etc.).
Secondly, we must understand that the notion of ‘friendship’ has a new meaning on social networking sites. Friends are generally important to young people and having many friends on your contact list could be one way of giving a signal that your are successful with many friends. However, on Arto there are very different interpretations among the users as to what constitute a ‘friend’. Some users hold that they will not accept friendship applications from users with whom they have never communicated or met IRL. Those users distance themselves from the so-called ‘friend-hunters’ who send out friendship applications to almost everyone (and who would probably be in the target group of buying fake friends).
Generally, it seems that the users must walk the tightrope between being viewed as popular and respected with many (real) friendships and being viewed as a ‘loser’ who tries to show off a long list of friends in order to be popular.
That being said, I look forward to seeing how successful FakeYourSpace.com will be in the US. It might work on MySpace where a diversity of 150 million people have a profile.