Myspace (partially found deleted early user files from social network website; 2003-2015)

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Myspace advertisement.jpg

An image advertising in 2007.

Status: Partially Found was the most prominent social media website of the mid 2000s, having over a billion registered user accounts[1] and being ranked in July 2006 as the single most visited website on the entire internet.[2] While Myspace itself is still readily available online, the site has fallen into relative dormancy as other social media networks passed it in terms of unique monthly visitors, with Facebook being the first to do so in mid-2008.[3] As the internet continues to grow in popularity, websites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter regularly surpass the userbase Myspace had in its peak.

Myspace carved out an early niche with online musicians. Rappers used the website extensively thanks to the popularity of Myspace-fueled crunk rapper Soulja Boy, and many of the biggest artists in the genre today used the site to boost their careers, including Drake, Nicki Minaj, 50 Cent, Kid Cudi, J.Cole, Waka Flocka Flame and Tyler, the Creator.[4] Other artists who released music via the platform during its heyday include Lily Allen, Adele, Calvin Harris, Skrillex, Arctic Monkeys, Panic! At the Disco, Owl City and Sean Kingston.[5][6]

In 2018, a Reddit user allegedly received an email from Myspace's support team claiming that there was "an issue with all songs/videos uploaded over 3 years ago", further stating that "the issue will be fixed" but that "there is no exact time frame for when this will be completed". However, a response allegedly sent to a different user a few months later said that the files were corrupted due to a server migration and that "there is no way to recover the lost data". The news of this loss stayed relatively quiet until being brought to light by blogger and former Kickstarter CTO Andy Baio, who tweeted in March 2019 that "Myspace accidentally lost all the music uploaded from its first 12 years in a server migration, losing over 50 million songs from 14 million artists".[7]

The exact circumstances under which these files were lost are unknown. Myspace's official support page offers users help in finding old photos or friends lists, but includes no mention of music, and most tellingly includes the clarification that "if you are looking for something that is not on this list, that means the content is no longer available and cannot be retrieved".[8] Many question the official narrative offered by Myspace, with Baio expressing his deep skepticism "that this was an accident" and that "flagrant incompetence may be bad PR, but it still sounds better than 'we can't be bothered with the effort and cost of migrating and hosting 50 million old MP3s."[9] At any rate, it remains unclear as to whether or not any music files have been preserved by Myspace, and as of now there's no way to access any from the website.

In April 2019, 490,000 mp3 files from Myspace were uploaded to the Internet Archive, in a collection known as The Myspace Dragon Hoard. The files included were uploaded between 2008 and 2010, and were downloaded as part of an academic study into music networks. The full collection is more than a terabyte in size, and filenames are written algorithmically, making it a difficult archive for people to search through.[10]

The files lost, whether deleted intentionally or truly lost as a result of a failed server migration, represent what is likely the single largest loss of music in history. The Myspace Dragon Hoard only includes files from 2 out of the 12 years that are missing from the archives, and in total amounts to less than 0.1% of all the music that was lost. While it's likely that many of the most culturally significant acts who used Myspace to host music have since seen their work backed up onto contemporary websites, many smaller musicians and everyday people are unlikely to have thought to keep their Myspace audio and thus might not be able to hear it again. In a particularly tragic example, one father found that a childhood recording of his deceased son had been wiped from the platform.[11] Even among the more popular artists, the sheer scope of what's now inaccessible makes it impossible to so much as identify all of the songs that were archived, much less locate backups of them. It is unlikely that much more from Myspace's music archives will ever surface, unless Myspace are able to locate other backups.

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