- The Washington Times - Monday, April 27, 2009

NEW YORK | With MySpace falling behind Facebook as the world’s largest online social network, MySpace tapped a former Facebook executive as its new chief executive.

Owen Van Natta, Facebook’s former chief operating officer, replaces Chris DeWolfe, a co-founder of MySpace, who stepped down as chief executive Wednesday. News Corp., which owns MySpace, said Mr. Van Natta’s new role begins immediately.

Mr. Van Natta faces the lofty task of reinvigorating MySpace at a time when Facebook is growing at a faster clip and Twitter, the short-messaging site, is grabbing scores of headlines and celebrity attention. While MySpace is still the largest social network in the United States, it has only 130 million users worldwide, compared with more than 200 million for Facebook.

Even so, MySpace may be making more money, at least for now. Research firm eMarketer estimates that the company brought in $585 million in U.S. ad revenue last year, nearly three times that of Facebook. A big chunk of that, however, comes from an ad-sharing deal with Google Inc. that expires next year.

The executive change could be energizing for MySpace, said Charlene Li, an industry analyst and founder of Altimeter Group.

“MySpace has a very interesting product and a loyal user base,” Ms. Li said. But from a technology perspective, they’ve been stagnant, she added.

Facebook, meanwhile, continues to redesign and update the site, even if doing so often leads to user rumblings.

“Owen is coming from Facebook, and the history they have with being much more technologically innovative than MySpace,” Ms. Li said. Shaking things up, she added, is the “whole purpose of a change in management.”

Facebook adopts rules despite small vote

Facebook will adopt new rules governing the social network even though a vote fell well short of a minimum threshold.

The new documents specify, among other things, that users own their information, not Facebook. An earlier attempt to push changes led to user confusion and protests over who controls the personal information people share on the site.

More than 600,000 of Facebook’s 200 million regular users voted during the past week, with nearly three-quarters in favor of the changes. Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook said Friday an outside auditor is verifying the results.

Ted Ullyot, Facebook’s general counsel, said turnout is “a small number” compared with the site’s user base. Facebook had set a minimum threshold of a 30 percent voter turnout for the vote to be binding. That would have been about 60 million people, or about 100 times the actual turnout.

Microsoft, Mayo Clinic medical records site

SEATTLE | The Mayo Clinic has combined its medical expertise with Microsoft Corp.’s technology in a free Web site that lets people store personal health and medical information.

The Mayo Clinic Health Manager, as the site is called, is one of many emerging services for so-called personal health records. The sites, from companies such as Microsoft and Google Inc. and major health insurers, are meant to give people an easy way to stash medical information and transfer it to a new clinic, hospital or specialist.

The Mayo Clinic Health Manager uses Microsoft’s HealthVault system to store medical histories, test results, immunization files and other records from doctors’ offices and hospital visits, along with data from home devices like heart rate monitors.

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