MySpace has been acting a bit odd all year. Last month all Flash embeds on the site were turned off for a few hours. Some people speculated that they were testing the waters, seeing what kind of backlash they would see from user complaints. MySpace PR flatly denied these speculations, however, saying it was nothing more than a bug.
Still, some sites are seeing what look to be permanent bans from the site. Vidilife, Stickam and Revver widgets cannot be placed on the site, and MySpace hasn’t said why, or if they’d be let back on. These services are at a loss as to what to do – in a recent post on the Revver blog they ask for users to email MySpace and request that the service be turned back on.
Tonight we’re hearing that popular widget provider Imeem is the latest service to be banned.
It’s clear that MySpace isn’t happy with the fact that other services are building their business on the back of their massive user numbers – Peter Chernin, the COO of News Corp. (MySpace’s parent company) said as much late last year and specifically named YouTube, Flickr and Photobucket as services that were “really driven off the back of MySpace.”
Industry insiders have said (and continue to say) that MySpace has had enough of building third party widget providers into massive businesses. They say MySpace is preparing to block all widget providers over time and will let only those who pay a “toll” back in. MySpace PR denies this as well, saying that the January block was a developer error, and not commenting at all on the recent service-specific blockages.
If MySpace does eventually go the route of generally blocking widget providers, except those willing to pay a fee, they’ll be called to the mat for previously saying that they have no plans to do so. And whether these blockages really are developer errors, or in fact shots across their bow, widget companies that rely on MySpace for users are literally quaking in their boots, waiting to see who’s next to get blocked.
I’ve pinged MySpace for a comment on the Imeem blockage, but don’t expect to hear back from them until Monday.