“You Looked Better on MySpace”: Deception and authenticity on the Web 2.0

  • Lauren F. Sessions University of Pennsylvania
Keywords: Social network sites, computer-mediated communication, deception, self-presentation, social norms, internet, authenticity.


This paper examines Social Network Site (SNS) users’ criticism of a popular style of SNS profile picture referred to as “MySpace Angles.” Reactions to this style of portraiture label the display of these photographs “deceptive,” alleging that MySpace Angles fool users into believing that the subject is more attractive than they actually are. This case study approach utilizes a close reading analysis of the MySpace Angle commentary, revealing three main themes in users’ critique of MySpace Angles: 1) users who post these photographs are conforming to a social trend at the expense of their individuality; 2) the presentation of these photographs is narcissistic; and, 3) these photographs purposefully conceal the body. This case study displays a shift in the conception of deception online; on the social Web populated by SNSs, theories of deception and authenticity are called into question as users are increasingly anchored to their bodies and expected to effortlessly present an online self mirroring the off-line self.

Author Biography

Lauren F. Sessions, University of Pennsylvania
Lauren F. Sessions is a doctoral student at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests include new media, social networks, and the role of face-to-face interaction in relationship maintenance and development.
How to Cite
Sessions, L. F. (2009). “You Looked Better on MySpace”: Deception and authenticity on the Web 2.0. First Monday, 14(7). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v14i7.2539