By Niraj Chokshi
New York Times News Service
Myspace, once one of the world’s most popular websites, has long since plummeted in relevance, but for years it has provided its earliest users a place where they could revisit memories from a bygone era.
But not anymore.
A large amount of user data uploaded to the once-dominant social network before 2016 may be lost for good, the company said in a recent note on its website.
“As a result of a server migration project, any photos, videos, and audio files you uploaded more than three years ago may no longer be available on or from Myspace,” the firm said in the note, according to the BBC and other news sites. “We apologize for the inconvenience.”
The announcement was gone by midmorning Monday, and Myspace did not respond to repeated requests for further detail about the timing and scope of the data loss.
Many publications estimated that as many as 53 million songs from 14 million artists were affected by the data loss, but it wasn’t clear how much of that music was uploaded by users. (When Myspace rebooted in 2013, it boasted a library of 52 million songs thanks to deals with labels and uploads from users, according to reports at the time.)
The news was the latest chapter in the long decline of the once-mighty social media giant. Founded in 2003, a year before Facebook, Myspace boasted about 250 million users in the United States in its heyday. In 2005, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. paid $580 million to buy the site’s parent company. Around that time, Myspace.com also became the most-visited website in the United States, briefly overtaking Google. But it changed hands two more times in the last decade for a fraction of that price, as Facebook, Reddit, Twitter and other platforms lured users away.
Myspace grew to be a formidable force in music hosting, at one point amassing the biggest library in digital music. But it struggled on that front, too, eventually losing ground to other services like Spotify.
The massive data loss underscores a modern danger: As we increasingly give pieces of our lives over to big tech companies, we lose control of some of our most intimate artifacts.
“We’re just going to be digital refugees forever, running from site to site losing things as we go, and our family history is going to disappear,” said Jason Scott, a founder of Archive Team, a loose network of archivists and programmers formed to save data from services at risk of disappearing.