It’s hard to leave your social status behind, even on the Internet, and two popular social networking sites — Facebook and MySpace — are being held up as a perfect example.

U.S.-focused research suggests Facebook generally draws those with higher education and social status.

Eszter Hargittai of Northwestern University in Chicago sees no mystery in the transfer of real-world divisions to Facebook and MySpace. “Existing social divisions translate online,” said the associate professor in the communications studies department. “These sites are mainly used for hanging out with people you already know.”

Hargittai’s research found there is a difference by ethnicity and parental education in the United States as to who uses Facebook versus MySpace. Hispanic students, for example, are more likely to use MySpace because that’s where “their friends hang out.”

Facebook, it seems, is for the more upwardly mobile. “It’s about who you know, what you’re doing, where do you go, where were you on your holiday,” said Shirley Steinberg, an expert in media literacy and popular culture at McGill University. “Just the use of the words ‘status update’ has a middle-class implication.”

MySpace doesn’t do any of that, said Steinberg. “Just the title, ‘MySpace,’ itself implies that it’s personal.”

She says MySpace users tend to be in their early teens, and the site is known for attracting musicians and artists and for letting its users be creative.