THE BROWSER: Truth and rumors from the tech world
MySpace purge draws sharp reactions
With the deletion of 200,000 profiles, is the social network losing its cool? Plus: Lenovo probe stirs up PC makers.
By Owen Thomas, Business 2.0 Magazine online editor and Oliver Ryan, Fortune reporter

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0) - When Friendster started deleting profiles it deemed risque or otherwise objectionable, users bolted for the exits, helping to boost rival social networks like MySpace. Could MySpace be making the same mistake? Author Nicholas Carr characterized a recent move to close 200,000 accounts as a "purge." Ross Levinsohn, head of MySpace parent News Corp.'s (Research) Internet division, said the move was motivated by concerns for teen safety. That's certainly credible given the spate or recent incidents in which adults have been arrested for soliciting sex from minors met on the site. But mainstream marketers' concerns about questionable content may just go just as far in explaining its recent reform campaign. And with 250,000 new accounts opened daily, the closures hardly seem large enough to slow MySpace's momentum.

Lenovo probe riles PC makers

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An investigation into Chinese PC maker Lenovo is making waves in the computer industry. On Monday, the U.S.-China Economic Security Review Commission said that it was looking into a recently awarded contract to purchase 15,000 laptops and desktops from Lenovo for use in the State Department. The theory is that the Chinese government could apply pressure to the PC maker to have espionage devices installed in the machine. One small problem with that theory, DailyTech points out: The machines in question are being made in Taiwan, Mexico, and Raleigh, North Carolina, not in China. The probe is worrying Taiwanese suppliers, most of whom outsource their operations to China. Their thinking: If Lenovo, who's not making the machines in question in China, is getting probed, what's to stop the U.S. government from launching investigations which could scare away customers?

Smarter phones cut text-message costs

In Europe, wireless carriers charge an arm and a leg for text messages -- and even more for sending photos to your friends. So far, they've been able to get away with such high fees because they've kept tight control over their networks. But cell phones are getting smarter -- and so are consumers. Alarm:clock, a venture capital blog, reports that a new generation of European venture-backed startups are breaking the carriers' lock on messaging, using phones' data capabilities to route messages more cheaply off of the carriers' proprietary networks and over the public Internet. One startup's founder, Doug Richards of Cambridge, England -based Hotxt, calls his company "the Skype of text."

EarthLink rescues New Orleans Wi-Fi

Despite a Louisiana state law banning municipal-run wireless networks, New Orleans has been operating a citywide Wi-Fi network under emergency dispensation. A third of the city still lacks working phone lines, months after Hurricane Katrina struck, making Wi-Fi a lifeline for many residents. Despite the network's essential function, the city's chief information officer claimed that BellSouth (Research) was lobbying the state legislature to have the network shut down. With the prospect of a shutdown looming, EarthLink (Research) has stepped in to take over the network, making it legal. EarthLink plans to offer a slower, free service and a high-speed, paid service for about $20 a month. While helping storm-battered New Orleans may seem like a feel-good move, the Internet service provider has been pushing to roll out and manage Wi-Fi networks in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and other cities as a way to gain new subscribers. Top of page

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