Flickr took great care to prepare its users for the deletion, Mr. Scott said, but that was a rare exception. He believes there is only one solution.
“Laws, straight-up laws,” he said. “Big old, bothersome, ‘Oh no, our start-up can’t have free vodka on Friday because of the extra money we spend on certifications and holding to them’ laws.”
He and others warn this will be a recurring story, too. “Someday, this will happen to Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, etc.,” Cory Doctorow, the author and co-editor of the tech site Boing Boing, wrote in a post. “Don’t trust the platforms to archive your data.”
But even those motivated to save their data often face hurdles. Many popular services do not make it easy to extract the photos, videos and messages that they upload.
The troubles at MySpace began almost as soon as News Corporation scooped up Intermix Media, whose main asset was Myspace, in 2005. Mr. Murdoch has conceded that his company “proceeded to mismanage it in every possible way,” ultimately selling the company in 2011 to a group of investors that included Justin Timberlake for just $35 million. The company that acquired it, Viant, an ad technology firm, describes the move on its website as being motiviated by the consumer data Myspace offered.
But Myspace would never recover, even as it changed hands, strategies and designs.
In early 2016, the publisher Time Inc., bought Viant for $87 million. The following year, Meredith Corporation, a media conglomerate, announced plans to buy Time. In a regulatory filing related to that deal, Time laid out its intellectual property, which it said included consumer data, and e-mail addresses, for about 250 million unique Myspace users in the United States.
According to data provided by comScore, the media measurement company, the number of unique visitors to Myspace.com has fallen precipitously over the past four years. In Febuary 2015, the website had nearly 29 million unique visitors. This February, it had about 2 million.
And Myspace may change hands again. After Meredith Corporation acquired Time Inc., last year, it put Viant up for sale.