Is The Sun (owner: Rupert Murdoch) indulging in a campaign of partisan reporting designed to damage Facebook, one of the main rivals to MySpace (owner: Rupert Murdoch)?
That’s a question that has been raised a few times on blogs (such as towards the end of this posting [Update - or here on Liberal Conspiracy]), so I thought I would take a look at The Sun’s website and compare the coverage on there of Facebook versus MySpace.
To be fair to The Sun, I asked the site’s own search engine to give me the top fifteen headlines for stories including the word “MySpace” and then the same for “Facebook”. These aren’t my choices or someone else’s search engine at work. This is what The Sun says, as it were.
Let’s take Facebook first:
Negative stories about Facebook or what people have done via Facebook
- Hit in the Facebook
- Facebook party turns violent
- ‘Shank’ website is aimed at the kids who carry knives
- Facebook left users ‘at risk’
- Lily and her ex Ed split … again (Although the headline may sound neutral, the story went on to say things such as “It baffles me why anyone, let alone a celeb, would see fit to announce that on Faceache.”)
- Facebook party is a washout
- £22k ‘Facebook’ damages win
- Rapebook: Broadmoor beast lures girls online
- Man sues pal over Facebook
- Georgina’s sad Facebook find
- ‘Knife pal’ net game scrapped
- Facebook pics put on sex site
- ‘Hooker’ caught in internet hoax
Positive stories about Facebook or stories that are neutral about the site but promote traffic to it
- McCanns back Facebook
- Facelift for Facebook
That’s 13-2 against Facebook. So how about MySpace?
Negative stories about MySpace:
- My guy fancies someone else
Err, that’s it. I think you can guess what therefore comes next …
Positive stories about MySpace:
- MySpace justice for crash victim
- MTV and MySpace launch show
- Lily Allen’s latest Ed-ition on web
- Manda has come of age
- MySpace squares up to iTunes
- Networking sites ban kid pervs (This also gives Facebook a positive mention.)
- Find the new stars up in Space
- I become friend 240,000,001
- Cactus abducts pregnant girl (Yes, really.)
- DJ Sam defends little Lohan sis
- Celeb girls hit the decks
- MySpace profile is ‘new CV’
- Page 3 girl’s MySpace joy
- The Sun gets its apps out
So, that would be 14 positive stories about MySpace compared to 1 negative. A bit different from the 2 positive against 13 negative stories about Facebook.
So is the The Sun consistently biased in favour of the company owned by The Sun’s owner at the expense of a commercial rival? There certainly are some questions to be answered as this imbalance is completely out of kilter with their relative traffic levels or with the scope for wrong-doing on either system (all the nasty things reported about Facebook can also happen on MySpace).