Yahoo takes on Facebook, MySpace with Mash

Yahoo is playing catch-up in the social networking market to Facebook and MySpace, but the company isn’t giving up yet. Yahoo quietly began inviting people to its new site called Mash.

Will Aldrich, the head of the Mash team at Yahoo, says that if you’ve used other online profile sites before, you’ll feel at home with Mash. However, Yahoo isn’t trying to be a copy of the existing sites — Aldrich said Mash offers a few “twists.”

With Mash, you can make starter profiles for your friends; You can leave your profile open to contributions by trusted friends; and You can customize your — or your friend’s — profile with modules from a growing gallery of apps.

If you are concerned about privacy, Aldrich said, “there are extensive privacy controls in Mash and you set the boundaries that you’re comfortable with.”

This is not Yahoo’s first attempt at social networking. Introduced in 2005, Yahoo 360 turned out to be a disappointment. In fact, Yahoo 360 doesn’t appear in a top 10 list of social-networking sites in the U.S. released by Nielsen/NetRatings. That list of the most popular social-networking sites with U.S. users during August, is topped by News Corp.’s MySpace with 60.3 million unique visitors.

Facebook, which Yahoo reportedly tried unsuccessfully to buy last year for US$1 billion, came in second with 19.2 million unique visitors, a robust 117 per cent increase over August of last year, outpacing MySpace’s 23 percent growth clip.

Mash is currently available by invitation only.

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