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MySpace? Naw, keep it to yourself!

MySpace duped hundreds of people into thinking that they got a free screening of WANTED.

MySpace's enticing invitation page. Dong Ngo/CNET Networks

Throughout the years, I've received countless invitations to join MySpace. Somehow, I never wanted to join. I have nothing against social network sites as I even have an account on Facebook. However, there's this bad feeling about MySpace when I look at the site. Call me a weirdo if you want, but what happened yesterday is my tangible explanation to all the rejections I've made.

At least since last Friday (possible earlier), MySpace put up a Web page to invite people to a "BlackCurtain" screening of the upcoming movie Wanted at AMC Metreon in downtown San Francisco, which is five blocks from CNET's HQ. My co-worker Eric entered his name and soon enough he got the movie invitation e-mail from MySpace. The invitation is good for two and as we're both big fan for comic-based movies, we were excited.

Myspace's ticket to...wait and be turned away. Erick Franklin/CNET Networks

And we were not alone. We got to the theater at 5:30 or so (the show started at 7:30) and there were already about 60 people in front on of us. The line kept growing and at one point, we could see the total of about 300 hundred people. We felt pretty good as the ticket stated that it's a "first come first serve" event and we know the theater can hold hundreds of people. We were pretty sure that we would make it. The excitement was high.

Well, we could totally have made it if everyone was on equal footing. At about 6:40, they started to let people in. When there were 12 people in front of us, they stopped. At this point one of MySpace's representative started walking down the line asking for people from TechCrunch (or so he sounded), who then got pulled out of the line, showed their ID and whisked into the theater.

As it turned out, (and we had to go ask one of the representatives later to find out about this), this was a private screening for TechCrunch but MySpace, worrying that there wouldn't be enough attendees (or so the representative in shorts and a T-shirt told Eric), decided to "cordially invite you and a guest" to join.

The table left by MySpace's representatives as they all disappeared into the theater. Dong Ngo/CNET Networks

In the end, Eric and I, together with more than 100 people, were left in line until the last minute without being told what was going on. By the time we realized we wouldn't make it in, we had already wasted 2 hours. At this point, a woman from Universal Studio started walking around asking us for our e-mail so that she would send us a "free" ticket for "Hellboy II." We didn't sign up as we were there to see Wanted, plus we didn't want another "first come first serve" experience. Meanwhile the MySpace people--the host--gave one another a ticket then disappeared into the theater, without saying anything to the crowd. Not even one apology.

In my life, I've never felt more disrespected and misled. And I felt that for the whole crowd. First of all, if the screening was a private for TechCrunch, then just make it private! If you want to invite some extra, make it clear on the ticket or at least announce that at the theater. In this day and age, MySpace could have easily estimated how many free tickets they should have sent out. Inviting hundreds of people to come and wait for hours then turning them away was just wrong and disrespectful. Secondly, it's not like we can't afford the ticket. The reason we signed up for the screening is because it was the only chance to see the movie before its opening date (I am sure you all can relate to this). The worst thing is watching the MySpace people talking to one another, stretching, smiling...like nothing was going on in front of hundreds of anxious Wanted fans. The MySpace experience left us such a bad taste in our mouths that it has at least for now, completely sullied our enthusiasm for the actual movie.

Working in the media my whole life, I've attended many promotional events; this was by far the most poorly organized and utterly distasteful event. The kind that makes me question the very intelligence the organizer.

If MySpace wants to be "a place for friends," it needs to learn what kind of place that should be, to recognize that everyone deserves to be informed and treated with respect. We both view the attitude of MySpace's representatives at the event indicative of the company's integrity and organization. So my friends, let's be friends some place else and please don't invite me to join ever again!