With all the noise about predators on MySpace, no one seems to be the least interested in learning that kids who actually use it say they ignore sexual approaches on MySpace.

But something they can’t ignore (and probably don’t really notice) is the intense advertising.

Unlike earlier online social networks and even viral marketing, MySpace marketing is incredibly blatant.

Burger King (the franchise, not just somebody using that as a screen name) currently has more than 100,000 “friends” on MySpace.

I wonder how many Old Navy “friends” are out there in MySpace Space?

Is MySpace really anything more than a marketing tool ready to be sold to the highest bidder where kids, teens, and young adults are conned into thinking they are connecting with others of a similar ilk but are actually doing unpaid marketing surveys on themselves and inviting viral marketing?

If you doubt it, then you must think that Rupert Murdoch is just some cool old guy who happens to sell a lot of advertising space on the air and in print, or that Google bought search rights to MySpace because they don’t care about selling ads.

As for whether it could work, consider that we all hear about people who meet their “true love” online, apartment, loan them money, and get them a cell phone within a few weeks of “meeting” them online – how much easier is it to convince someone to buy Pepsi instead of Coke?
I bet if all the members/friends on MySpace actually got together it would turn out that three-quarters of them are synthetic people, avatars created with only one purpose in mind – to market to the gullible and vulnerable.

And you can’t deny that teens and young adults are both, why else would they actually pay to wear corporate advertising for brands such as Old Navy?

So, is MySpace a force for good, giving kids a place where they can safely explore life’s possibilities and keep reinventing themselves until they get it right? Or is it going to temporarily turn the next generation into even more self-centered, brand-Nazis and eventually (when they discover what corporations have done to them) into world class cynics who make me look like Mary Poppins?