More MySpace Boogeymen

March 3rd, 2006 by Alex

Mostly what we hear in the media about, the social networking site, is the ridiculously overblown notion that it’s somehow dangerous. (Criminals lurking on a website waiting to snatch your children - tonight on Channel 10 Action News!)

What we don’t hear much about is the other side of the equation - the authorities are lurking on Myspace too, and they’re ready to bust you. I’ve reported on this before in the case of a group of New Jersey students suspended for photos they had posted to Myspace, but today in California there’s a new angle to the story: students there are being suspended not for posts they made, but for viewing something another student wrote.

To be fair, there’s nothing sympathetic about the original post, but to me there’s still something profoundly disturbing in the notion that we can be punished just for reading something authorities don’t like. (And there’s something almost certainly unconstitutional in what the school did — the Supreme Court has put limits on the ability of public schools to discipline students for activities that happen off-campus — but that’s a discussion for another day.) I suppose, ultimately, that’s the reality of personal media in the online age: all of us have a story to tell, but sometimes we forget who can listen in.