In November I blogged about Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta New Jersey and their forcing of students to stop using sites like MySpace, Xanga, and Facebook. Over the past few months I have seen a number of comment come in regarding…well…not threats from schools, but blocking of such sites by educational institutions. Now, its important to note that the blocking of these social sites seem to be localized to Elementary and High Schools, not higher education institutions.
Blocking social sites like this has been met with heavy opposition by those users that are directly affected by such blocks. Lets face it. The web is extremely social and is growing more so as time progresses. My friend, Zach mentions (via our mutual friend Casey):
There are 3,975 registered [Facebook] users at Plymouth State University. Like the other schools on [Facebook], over 60% of them log in every 24 hours.
This type of following is not localized to just universities. The hordes of students frequenting these sites is truly amazing. To get an idea about how much High School students seem to be attached to social sites such as this, I’ll bring up the following article I found at WOAI via Wikipedia.
All but 400 of the 3,000 students at San Antonio Warren High School either didn’t show up or walked out of class today due to threats against the school posted on a popular teen web site, 1200 WOAI news reported today.
“About mid morning today we were able to confirm that the web site ‘MySpace-dot-com’ allowed several students to post threatening messages on it’s web site, messages threatening Warren High School,” Pascual Gonzales of the Northside School District said. “This message said two boys were planning to show up at school with guns.”
That example is not only a testament to the numbers of users, but both the benefits and the the drawbacks of such software. MySpace and similar sites help fuel the passing of information and breaks down social barriers…which is a great thing! But what the schools and many parents are seeing is that many people feel secure in the sites’ use and tend to post fairly revealing bits of information (e.g. provocative photos, under-aged drinking, etc). Schools attempt to stop this kind of behavior by forcefully blocking the sites. Wrong move, it teaches the students nothing. It causes them to continue to participate in posting risque information, blissfully ignorant of the damage it can cause to their reputation and/or the danger it poses to them due to stalkers. To subvert the blocks schools create, students are resorting to the use of Proxies.
These proxies allow users to browse sites under the guise of other sites’ addresses. Since the onset of schools blocking sites, there have been an eruption on proxy sites; free, signup required, ad fueled, etc. If you are curious what is being used by students, here are some that a few have posted here at Borkweb:
There are a crap ton more out there…simply search for myspace proxy or facebook proxy.
If you are student reading this (or anyone else for that matter), be careful what you post. Whatever goes on sites like that, its not closed to the outside world…It’s extremely public information. If you aren’t a student, well, its important to know that attempting to force students in a direction by brute force, it’ll cause them to long for it even more. Instead…educate, don’t dictate.
Another odd thing that seems to be heavily searched is hacking facebook and hacking myspace. A spin off from the heavy usage of such software and the goals of mischievous to deface/defame others’ profile. This I just don’t get.