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Murdoch buyout riles some MySpace users

There's a Fox in MySpace, and bloggers are squawking.
/ Source: The Associated Press

There's a Fox in MySpace, and bloggers are squawking.

Nervous members of the wildly popular online social networking spot are blasting its purchase by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., expressing dark fears about the powerful billionaire's alleged motives and the possibility of privacy breaches, monitoring, censorship — and access fees.

"It's something we're very concerned about," said Scott Swiecki, 34, of Tempe Ariz., who's a member of the MySpace group "Faux News" as well as another group that combines the Murdoch name with an expletive. "There are a lot of counterculture people on MySpace. My concern is Fox will add fees and censor content."

News Corp. purchased Intermix Media Inc., the owner of MySpace, for $580 million last month, mainly so that Fox Interactive Media can reach the site's 22 million registered users.

MySpace, which launched just two years ago, is currently the most popular social networking site in the world. It makes it easy for people to customize their home pages with personal photos, art, color and music, along with market-revealing lists of favorite activities, books, music and films. Users can get site-wide bulletins, but they mostly communicate with friends or intriguing strangers they've expressly allowed into a network. Bands often use the site to debut their music.

The only automatic "friend" for everyone who joins the site is MySpace's co-founder, Tom Anderson. He has his own profile — single, 29, Santa Monica — and a list of 18 interests, 24 favorite bands, and 12 heroes, including "my mom" and author George Orwell.

After the sale was announced, spoofers added a profile for Murdoch, too: straight, married, 74 — which says he has joined the site for "networking" and lists his occupation as "world domination."

Chris DeWolfe, co-founder and CEO of the Los Angeles-based MySpace, told The Associated Press that the News Corp. acquisition will change nothing about the site — other than to extend MySpace's international reach.

But some of the hipsters in the online hangout fear their freewheeling ways, celebrated in naughty notes, brash blogs and provocative photos, won't mesh with the values of Murdoch's media outlets, like Fox News, which they believe are right-wing mouthpieces for the Bush administration.

"I'm opposed to what Rupert Murdoch has done to the media, and I don't want him involved in MySpace," said user Nathan Hall, 26, of Milwaukee.

News Corp. spokeswoman Teri Everett said the company has "no intention of imposing any sensibilities on MySpace," and that none of the anti-Murdoch messages will be deleted.