Last week there was lots of discussion about the claim from ComScore that more than half of MySpace users are over 35. But more recently a few bloggers have taken a closer look and concluded that the data is being misinterpreted: the unique visitors have gotten older, but the users (people who sign up and create profiles) probably haven’t, or at least not to such a degree. These people could be searching for bands on Google and come across a profile on MySpace Music, or read about MySpace in the press and stop by the front page. ComScore’s methodology is also being questioned: they use software installed on computers to track usage, and it’s being suggested that teens won’t necessarily log out of their parent’s accounts before going to social networks. That could skew the data for all the sites: Friendster, Xanga, MySpace and Facebook.
A MySpace spokesperson later backed up the ComScore numbers, but there’s no evidence that MySpace could know the age of their users: there’s an age field on the signup form, but many underage users simply lie. As with most statistics about social networks, we don’t really have solid answers. The general trend, however, seems to be that Xanga skews very young, Facebook is more popular with college students, Friendster is more of a grown up site (20 and 30 year olds) and lots of parents are visiting MySpace (although not necessarily signing up). The press lap up shocking statistics, but the truth is usually fuzzier, and makes for less interesting headlines.
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