Three-quarters of social-network site users say they wouldn't pay even a pittance

No one ever wants to pay anything for something they've been getting all along for free (hence the hokey old admonition about cows, milk and sex before marriage.)

So it should come as no surprise that 72% of respondents in a just-released survey by Parks Associates contend they would abandon their favorite social networking site altogether before paying a measly two bucks a month. The surprise is that almost 28% claim they would be willing to pony up.

But what people profess in polls and what they do in the privacy of their own Web browsers are not necessarily one and the same.

As predictable as that 72% may be, it says here that a bunch of those folks are not being truthful with themselves, the firm doing the poll, or both, because if MySpace started charging $2 a month tomorrow there is no way in this or Second Life that three out of four MySpacers would just drop their precious pages and their friends like fifth-period French.

Like, uh, no way.

There would be caterwauling and a meaningful number of defections, but I'm thinking it's more likely that three out four would pay to stay than three out of four would walk.

Two bucks a month? Heck, even to teen-agers that's chump change these days.

Of course, the difficulty both with such surveys and disputing their conclusions is that there is really no way to settle the argument short of one of these sites actually asking for $2 a month. That's unlikely.

From the press release: "These findings present a challenge to the companies competing in the social networking space. Parks Associates found 80% of broadband users ages 18-25 use these sites on a monthly basis; however, monetizing these users is proving to be difficult, with even category leaders such as MySpace struggling to turn big profits."

Go ahead, MySpace, call their bluff (it's not my money).

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.