[Air-l] Deleting Online Predators Act, MySpace and a plea for help

Alex Halavais halavais at gmail.com
Thu Jun 1 14:42:49 PDT 2006

Lauren wrote:

> Well put, danah.  I am interested in the fact that this message didn't
> inspire any responses to the list or discussion.

In answer to the direct, rather than the meta-, question:

I suspect many of us see this as an issue of activism rather than
research. I disagree with such an assessment. The support for this
comes from a base of voters who are frightened by the behaviors made
visible through MySpace, and that basic fear is exacerbated by
fear-mongering in (and by) the news media. Especially at this stage,
the more effective response is not lobbying, but rather (as danah
suggests) making your voice heard in the press and studying the ways
in which MySpace and social networking is used by students.

A clear demonstration of the benefits of such systems to students,
especially for educational purposes, would have, I think, the most
significant impact on the debate. Certainly, on its face, the bill
seems to curtail what we might think of as the freedom of our
children. But the supporters of the bill represent constituencies that
do not recognize the same set of freedoms as many of us do. If
research were to show that exposure to MySpace led to better
performance in school--or at least no worse performance in school--I
think this would put a bit of a crimp on the whole thing, if it
actually makes any progress in the Congress.

My bet, however, is that the only traction intended is in the mid-term
elections, and DOPA will quietly evaporate once the elections are
over. Issues of net neutrality seem a bit more pressing at the moment.

- Alex

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