MySpace integrates user profiles, blogs, classifieds, forums, galleries of photos, and a range of so-called entertainment content. The result is what the network describes as a “community where users can do everything from plan their weekends to connect up with friends to discover new music.”
When MySpacers log onto the network, they can see who else is online and available for a chat. They can reach out to existing friends, or strike up conversations with potential new ones. They can access another member's profile just by clicking on that person's name or photo. They can read and comment on the intra-network blogs they subscribe to, and post to their own. They can play games online with other members, view videos, listen to and share music, and participate in group activities. MySpace video content ranges from user-generated videos to actual programming.
A MySpace membership is free, and signing up is simple. You must be at least fourteen years old and have a valid e-mail address, an Internet connection, and a web browser. From the MySpace home page click on “Sign Up,” and then fill out the Sign Up for MySpace form.
As soon as you fill out the form, you'll be sent to Find Your Friends on the MySpace dialog box. (You can start searching for friends here, or skip this step.) This feature taps into your existing e-mail contacts to search for members you might already know. As a security measure, MySpace will ask you to return a message sent to your e-mail address.
Next, MySpace presents you with a chance to add music, videos, and applications to your account. Keep in mind that adding apps gives the third-party makers of those applications access to your display name, public photos, and friends list. You can skip this step and search for them later. Click “Continue,” and you're off and running.
Your Basic Profile
The first thing MySpace asks you to do is to upload a profile picture “so that your friends can recognize you.” You also have the option of taking a photo with your webcam on the spot. Or you can skip this step and add a photo later. Photos must be less than 5MB in size, but several file formats are supported, including JPEG, GIF, BMP, TIFF, and PNG.
It's easy to upload a photo: just click “Browse” and MySpace allows you to search a folder on your computer for a photo. Once you find one you like, click on the photo, then click “Upload,” and MySpace adds it to your profile. You can revisit this option any time to add more photos, but be sure to follow the rules (no nudity, nothing sexually explicit, nothing violent or offensive, and no pictures copyrighted by others).
With the next page you begin creating our basic profile. MySpace asks a series of questions about where you live and where you went to school. These questions are designed to provide a basic background that allows other members of similar background to find you. How much personal information to include in a social networking profile is always a highly individual decision. You can add the information requested, or skip it for now and add it later.
Your Home Page
Your Home page serves as a kind of personal command center. This page is a completely private space visible only to you. From here you can edit your profile, upload photos and videos, deal with your e-mail and blog, search for and interact with friends, find applications, access music features, launch games, adjust your settings, and just generally control your presence in the MySpace network.
Start by clicking the “Edit Profile” link under the Hello greeting. This opens the profile editor, which gives you access to a list of pages where you add information about yourself. The About Me page, for example, asks you to write a little description of yourself and the people you'd like to meet in MySpace. The Interests page asks you to list your favorite music, movies, TV shows, books, and personal heroes. The Basic Info page is where you access your contact information and the photos you've uploaded for your profile. The Headline box is where you write a personal blurb, which gets displayed with your photo.
As you go through this list, keep in mind that you don't have to fill in every blank. MySpace would argue that the more complete your information, the richer your experience on the network will be. There's a Schools page and a Companies page, both of which ask for fairly innocuous information. But the Details page gets pretty personal, asking about your dating interests, your race, your religion, and your sexual orientation, among other things. A good rule of thumb anytime you're considering the personal information options of any social network: Include only the things you're comfortable sharing with the world.
When you're finished, click on “View My Profile” in the menu bar and you'll see the MySpace page you're presenting to the network. Notice that the menu bar also includes “Account Settings,” which takes you to a page where you can change your contact information and your password, adjust your privacy level, and decide when and how you're notified of MySpace activity.