News Corp.'s MySpace social network began testing a service on Thursday that scours the Web for news stories and lets users rate them, aiming to attract more advertisers to the Rupert Murdoch-controlled company.
The service, called MySpace News, resembles a mix of Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Google News, which collects stories and arranges them based on thematic similarities and Digg.com, which displays stories suggested by its readers and displays them according to their popularity ranking, executives said.
MySpace News is an attempt by the company to keep its more than 100 million unique visitors, according to comScore Network's March figures, on the popular social network site longer.
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The service adds a social element to traditional news consumption by giving readers the ability to determine what becomes the top news on MySpace.
The launch is also part of News Corp.'s (NWS) efforts to aggressively court entertainment and other types of content from other media sources as it seeks to bolster a leading position on the Internet, executives have said.
News Corp. expects to generate over $500 million in revenue from its digital businesses this fiscal year.
Before the launch, MySpace users would have to leave the service to read news on the Internet. MySpace users on average spend about 10 minutes per visit in the United States and visit the site about 19 times per month, according to comScore.
The news service, long rumored, will have 25 main topics and about 300 sub-categories ranging from celebrities and gossip to autos and fashion.
"Many advertisers have expressed interest in the service, which allows them to target the MySpace community in a more direct way," Brian Norgard, co-founder of Newroo, a company purchased by News Corp. last year, which created MySpace News' technology, said in an interview.
Executives also said its service would draw from a wider collection of news sources than Google News. Google News draws from about 4,500 sources, according to its site. News Corp.'s Fox Interactive Media executives declined to specify the news outlets.
The technology scans thousands of news sources and displays them on the site based on how popular the stories are to its readers who can vote on them.
But services such as Google News, which displays brief excerpts of stories and photos from other companies on its site, has angered some news organizations seeking to build their own Internet businesses. Google recently settled a closely watched copyright dispute with Agence France-Presse.
The deal now clears the way for Google to continue displaying text excerpts and photos from the agency.
News publishers can ask to have their news feed removed from the MySpace service.
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