I received a question from Jennifer, a youth services librarian, who used some of the tips she learned yesterday to start her own MySpace page for her department. She was surprised to find that she already had a “friend,” the minute she set up her account. I realized that others might be curious about this so I decided to explain a little bit about how the friend portion of MySpace works.
The mysterious and apparently eager man who popped up on Jennifer’s page is Tom Anderson, one of the founders of MySpace. He shows up automatically as everyone’s first friend and is there to provide guidance through this crazy MySpace world. He’s completely harmless, however getting rid of him is very easy (and I promise he won’t be offended!). On your MySpace home page, you will see your “friend space” displayed on the bottom right. On a new account you will probably only have one person, Tom. The box will list the number of total friends you have and directly to the right of that number shows an “edit friends” option. This will take you to a page where you can check any friends that you want to remove. Then scroll down and click “delete selected friends.” They will ask you to confirm that you really want to do this and then poof! they’re gone.
One thing to note is that Tom is an anomaly, after this, you will have to confirm all future friend requests. Nobody can join your friends list without your approval. Also, only your friends are allowed to comment on your profile, blog, or pictures. This protects you from receiving comment spam or unwanted messages from strangers.
Something else to be aware of is that many groups, bands, organizations, etc. use MySpace for marketing, so you may receive requests from strangers to be your friends. Don’t let this frighten you. MySpace offers the option to block requests from bands and comedians. Sometimes, unsavory characters will request your “friendship.” This includes girls with “webcams” and people offering “business opportunities” (like stuffing envelopes). You can usually quickly determine who these people are by checking out their profile and reading their “about me.” If they mention anything like “I just got a cool new webcam!” Then you know just to click delete. MySpace also allows you to quickly report these people with one click of the “abuse” button at the bottom of the screen. Also note that these requests will die down after the first week or so.
Now what if you would like to initiate a friend request? Every profile has a “contact box.” This is usually located just below the main picture on the left side of the profile. This offers options like “add me” or “message me.” Click on add to add the person, group, or band as a friend. Click on message to send a MySpace e-mail. Another button to be aware of is the “block” option, which allows you to block that person. This can be helpful in the rare instance that you find yourself receiving abusive messages from another MySpace member.