MySpace, the social networking site owned by News Corp, is close to launching a news aggregation service that will allow its 160m members to rank news stories and headlines in order of importance and relevance.

The service, which could be announced as early as Thursday, effectively cedes editorial control of news selection to the MySpace user base and is the latest example of the company’s attempt to diversify into new areas.

MySpace started life as a site for people interested in posting and exchanging personal information. But as it has grown, new services have been bolted on and, like Google, the company now offers online video and instant messaging. Google also has a news aggregation service which pulls in content from thousands of different sources.

The MySpace service is different because after the content has been aggregated users will be encouraged to rate and rank news articles. Content will be published on several new channels, including sport, entertainment, health and parenting.

This, MySpace said, would allow advertisers to tailor online campaigns depending on the audience they wanted to reach. “The response from advertisers so far has been fantastic,” said Brian Norgard, co-founder or Newroo, a news aggregation service that was acquired by News Corp last year and integrated with MySpace. “Every advertiser wants to reach a specific customer and we are helping them to do that through these [news] channels.”

He added the company was “extremely excited about the implications for advertising going forward”. The news aggregation service adds a new dimension to the company’s advertising model which, to date, has relied on display and search advertising.

The company’s income from search comes predominantly from Google, which struck a deal with MySpace last year guaranteeing $900m over four years in return for MySpace using Google’s search technology.

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