Digital Kids: MySpace blurs line between friends and flacks

If Life's "Mikey" cereal boy were around today, he?d probably have a faux profile on the Internet, thanks to "buzz" marketing.

The volume of advertising in MySpace and other social networks is expected to balloon in the next few years, and much of it could blur the lines between socializing, entertainment and marketing.

Kids are especially at risk, critics say, because as a thriving group on social networks, many younger teens are not sophisticated enough to treat with skepticism this new, seductive form of advertising. For example, marketers behind movie characters like "Superman" and products like Wendy's hamburgers pose as potential "friends" for kids to network with on MySpace.

For some consumer advocates, it begs the question: How will kids adapt and cope? And do social networks need to establish clear lines between commercial ads and members' editorial, just as search engines were forced years ago to demarcate their sponsored links ? To see the full text of this article, click here.

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    Stefanie Olsen covers technology and science.

     

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