Sunday, April 8, 2007

The MySpace Journey - "Creating the Profiles" (Part 2)

Creating profiles on MySpace is really a simple process, and purposely so. Part of the reason for the success of MySpace is the easy of use. The first step to beginning the journey through the MySpace world is to create a profile. As mentioned in the previous post, I will be creating three profiles as part of this project.

The first step in creating a MySpace profile is to visit the MySpace home page, At the top right of the page, there is a “sign-up” link.

Clicking the sign-up link brings me to the “JOIN MYSPACE HERE” page. I am prompted to type my email address, first name, last name, password (and password confirmation), country, postal code (zip), date of birth, gender, and language preference. I can also choose to allow others to see when it is my birthday (enabled by default). In order to proceed, I have to enter all of the fields and check the checkbox labeled "By checking the box you agree to the MySpace Terms of Service and Privacy Policy".

Clicking the "Sign Up" button at the bottom of the page (in the graphic above) takes me to a "Verify Account" page that displays a graphic with letters in it. I must type the letters correctly in order to proceed. This step is in place as an attempt to stop programs written to create accounts automatically. Spammers are notorious for creating hundreds or thousands of bogus accounts used to email legitimate (human) ones.

My account/profile is now created, but as part of the sign-up process I am prompted to upload pictures to share with other MySpace people. Before I am allowed to upload any pictures, I have to check the checkbox labeled "I have read the saftey tips". I wonder how many people, especially kids actually read them. I click the checkbox (I did not read the safety tips, but will later), and click the "Browse" button to upload a picture to use for my profile.

Next, I am prompted to invite my friends on the "Invite Your Friends" page. For now, I am going to skip this step by clicking the "Skip for now" link at the bottom of the page. The sign-up process is complete, and I see my profile page.

If I check the email address that I signed up with, I will have an email from MySpace asking me to verify my email address. This verification consists of clicking a link provided in the email. This is required if I want to communicate effectively with other MySpace members.

Break Down - The Good
The MySpace sign-up process was so easy and simple to follow along with. I was able to setup the three profiles that I will use in this project in less that 30 minutes. I liked how MySpace included some security steps along the way during the sign-up, i.e. the image verification step and "safety tips" checkbox. Clearly, the MySpace sign-up process was built for ease-of-use.

Break Down - The Bad
No age verification is a serious issue in my opinion. I can state my age as whatever I want. I can be a 10 year-old signing up as a 20 something, or I can be a 40 year-old pedophile signing up as a 16 year-old. I am not a seasoned pro when dealing with age verification, but I would think that MySpace could come up with something. The lack of age verification has been a serious point of contention between child advocacy groups and MySpace for some time.

As part of age verification, it would be nice to include a parental consent process of some sort also. Although I liked how MySpace included a link and a required checkbox concerning the safety tips, it still doesn't seem like enough to me. On the "JOIN MYSPACE HERE" page, I have doubts as to the effectiveness of Terms of Service and Privacy Policy agreement. Can you legally hold a minor to this?

Sign-Up Conclusion
The sign-up process was designed with easy-of-use at the forefront, security and safety were added as an afterthought.

Tomorrow I will complete the “Pick your MySpace Name/URL!” process, go through some of the MySpace safety tips, and share any notable events regarding any of the three profiles.

Oh yeah, Happy Easter!

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