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Analysis: Facebook versus MySpace

Which social-networking site works best for you?

Applications

Facebook puts more emphasis than MySpace does on applications, which some people will like. You simply plug in a new application at your profile page, try it out quickly and painlessly, and then discard it later if it doesn't seem useful.

Facebook offers a lengthy list of such applications as blogging programs, video players/uploaders, music players/services, and sticky notes. Most of them are written by Facebook developers and users (Facebook says that it wants to be an 'operating system for social networking', and has released application programming interfaces (APIs) to private developers).

Either/Or?

For a couple of years, MySpace was the only game in town for social networking. But today Facebook is viable choice. Ultimately MySpace and Facebook may end up serving completely different sets of web users. Or perhaps many people will end up maintaining pages on both sites. But contrary to what some tech analysts say, most people today view the choice as an either/or question: Managing two identities on two social networks can take a lot of time.

Right now, Facebook is stretching to retain its core membership group, 18- to 24-year-olds, as they move on from college life. That's why the site is adding new features - like the applications menu and the ability to search for new friends at companies, not just schools.

As Facebook grows, its appeal among older people - the fastest-growing group of social network members - will increase. As more older users become exposed to Facebook in one way or another, a sizable chunk of the 35 million or so MySpace users in that category might seriously consider moving to Facebook. And if that chunk gets big enough, Facebook will be king.

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