Tuesday, June 27, 2006

all jocks outta the pool!

June has been a bad month for social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace as well as for the people who use them to broadcast their debauchery or to stealthily stalk the innocent. First MySpace was sued by a 14-year-old who says she was assaulted by a guy she met there. Then Weight Watchers announced it was pulling its ads on MySpace because it objects to appearing on pages belonging to porn stars. (Porn stars love MySpace.) Then BusinessWeek ran a worried Q & A with new MySpace security czar Hemanshu Niga. And now Kent State University has announced that student athletes have until August to take down their Facebook profiles, citing concern for both the safety of the athletes and the reputation of the school. A story about the ban in the Columbia Dispatch leads with these oddly mild examples:

“One student chose a picture of himself shirtless holding a Miller Lite can for his profile photo. He's on the baseball team. Another belongs to the 'My cell phone is my best friend when I'm drunk in Kent' group and lists skinny-dipping as an interest. She competes in track and field.”

Miller Lite and skinny dipping? Is the university really ready to take on the First Amendment over this? Kent and other universities would save themselves a lot of time, money and effort if they just launched a campaigned to inform college students that grownups-- including parents, cops, teachers, and coaches-- have discovered the Facebook. Surely self-censorship would soon follow.

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