The much-anticipated Digg-like news service from MySpace launched early this morning. The front page combines popular stories from the service's 24 categories and a user-democratized voting system for promotion and demotion. Stories are pulled from various sources by using technology from Newroo, an aggregation service MySpace acquired last year.
The voting system isn't based on simple thumbs-up or thumbs-down, as on Digg, Netscape, and Reddit. Instead, MySpace News uses a five-star rating system, with "loved it" and "hated it" on opposite ends of the spectrum.
MySpace News also features a local events section for 12 major cities. We tried out the San Francisco page, and there were a number of events listed, but no dates or locations for them, just small text summaries.
Any time you click on a story, MySpace will redirect you to the site where the story resides, and add a small navigation pane to bring you back to MySpace (like Netscape did when it launched its community news site). The navigation pane has a rating tool, a listing of three related stories, and a link to the story's URL to send to friends. Interestingly enough, MySpace will take over the site's URL and give it a news.myspace.com designation, so if you send that link to friends, the MySpace News branding will come with it. Very sneaky.
Tuite a few things are missing from MySpace News. The first is integration with MySpace proper. There's no way to show which stories you've been rating (or reading) on your MySpace profile. Likewise, you can't see what your friends have been up to, something that is critical for a social network. There's also no way to submit stories. According to the FAQ, this will be added later down the road. For now, stories are fed to the service from blogs or Web sites and put into a pool to be picked up by users. Finally, there's no way to discuss stories that are on the service.
In other words, almost all the features that make Digg worth coming back to are missing from MySpace News. While the service will likely flourish because of its built-in user base of MySpace millions, it hasn't been built from the start to let its users take the reins beyond just clicking buttons. It's a very thin social news experience.
For more screenshots, keep reading.