I'm currently not a member of MySpace, but once upon a time I checked it out because my best friend had a MySpace page with lots of pictures. Unfortunately, I couldn't view her photos without first signing up for a free membership and pinging her for permission.
That was the day I met Tom. If you've had any contact with MySpace, you know who Tom is. Not only is Tom Anderson the cofounder and President of MySpace, but he's also your very first friend when you become a MySpace member.
Sure, MySpace has a reputation for being a stalker zone, where old predators try to pick up young prey, where people pretend to have different names, ages, occupations, etc. Well, Tom completely condones this behavior. In fact, he models it for each and every member in his ginormous community. Why do I say that? A recent news story uncovers some dirt on dear old Tom, who is actually older than his MySpace profile and Wikipedia entry state: "Has America's First Friend Been Lying About His Age?" (TechCrunch)
How old is he really? We first heard 40. We dug a little online and came up with nothing. But then we got a senior person at MySpace to talk to us about it off record at the Web 2.0 Summit last week: this person confirmed that he's really "36 or 37″ and that MySpace has been trying to keep this quiet for some time.
I don't think a person's age is a big deal — at least, once you get past your early 20s — but lying and being deceitful are huge no-nos, especially when you're trying to build a community. I think Tom might lose quite a few friends (and face) once this information is confirmed and hits the mainstream news. Do you agree, or do you think that the MySpace community will quickly forgive their friend?
Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.