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Is MySpace really the ghetto of social networks? Are the people using Facebook really smarter? Researcher danah boyd (who does not capitalize her name, a la bell hooks) seeks to answer these questions, at least where teenagers are concerned, in a new paper, “White Flight in Networked Publics? How Race and Class Shaped American Teen Engagement with MySpace and Facebook.”

boyd, a researcher with Microsoft and Fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society, posted a draft of the paper on her blog in December. As the title suggests, the paper looks into how MySpace has become the ghetto of social networks, according to many of the teens she’s interviewed over the past several years.

These students have a variety of reasons for preferring one network over another. boyd writes, “Catalina, a white 15-year-old from Austin, told me that Facebook is better because ‘Facebook just seems more clean to me.’ What Catalina sees as cleanliness, Indian 17-year-old Anindita from Los Angeles, labels simplcity; she recognizes the value of simplicity, but she prefers the ‘bling’ of MySpace because it allows her to express herself.”

While these girls don’t mention race, others did, directly and indirectly. Another student outside Boston said, “The people who use MySpace–again, not in a racist way–but are usually more like ghetto and hip hop rap group lovers group.”

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