Wednesday, November 15, 2006

My Space or Our Space?

A discussion about free speech blossomed in class today after a post on my class's weblog dealt with the issue in relation to myspace.com. Students are finally realizing that administrators across the country are accessing myspace.com to check the activities of students. However, I believe that most only do so when they have been tipped off about something.
But my students, almost all of them, felt that, one, it is wrong for administrators to do such a thing, and two, if an administrator contacted myspace.com to have a site removed because of harrassing statements or vicious untruths, it was a violation of free speech.
I don't know that my students fully understood that, along with our freedom of speech is the responsibility to be stewards of that speech. That, just because you can say it, doesn't mean you should. And sometimes, when you utilize your free speech, you might hear something back in return that you aren't all that interested in hearing.
Ultimately, I struggled to convey to my students that, while the site is called MYspace.com, it really isn't theirs. Because once they publish it to the world wide web, it really is public space. So, yes, if an adminstrator, college admissions officer, or anyone else interested wanted to view their site, it really is within that individuals right to read public material. They just don't get that concept.

4 Comments:

At 12:22 PM , Anonymous Dana Huff said...

Amen to that.

 
At 11:42 AM , Anonymous MellowOut said...

Someone told me recently about a case where an Alaska Airlines flight attendant was fired for various pictures and postings on her MySpace because identified herself as an employee of Alaska. Legally, it turns out, the company had every right to do so for the simple reason that identifying herself as an employee of their company in such a way gave the implication that she was also a representative of the company. They might not have had a case if she'd just labeled herself as a flight attendant. Something for your students to think about for future reference.

Your students should also know that college admissions and potential employers are looking at their MySpace pages, too.

MySpace is not a forum for free speech. It is a corporate entity making money off the advertising, which is why it tries to appeal to the younger crowds with more disposable income.

 
At 11:47 PM , Blogger Simon said...

Good points all round. I think in the background of all this is that Governments like the US and British are probably quite happy to have sites like MySpace running, - as it it means that down the line they can retrieve the data for profiling for help on terrorism etc.
The point on potential employers looking at these pages is also a good one , as an employee the first thing that I do is research an individual, by either written refrerences or web searching [ places like myspace, bebeo etc.]
Although freedom of speech is something that is so popoular on these sites, the information is often hyped and misleading, if not in breach of international copyright laws.

Regards Simon dumville
YourBroadcaster

 
At 6:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everything you've said is true for blogs too. It's just the kids have more trouble valuing discretion.

 

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