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MySpace, Idol of Teen Spirit June 24, 2006 – 6:16 p.m. – Permalink

Part one in a series entitled “The Downfall of the Web.”

In 1998, the domain “www.myspace.com” was registered to a small file sharing and Web storage firm. The idea was that if you referred people to the site you could get more Web space in which you could place files. When this MySpace.com failed in 2001, what would be formed in July of 2003 would cause massive controversies over safety of youth on the Internet, schools’ rights to ban websites, and a consistent and expansive lack of accessibility and standardization.

I’ve talked a lot about the concept that social networking is ruining the Web. One of the things that is so disgusting about it is its reliability. For example, consider MySpace’s terms of service (one clause from it):

“MySpace.com does not claim any ownership rights in the text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, or any other materials (collectively, ‘Content’) that you post to the MySpace Services. After posting your Content to the MySpace Services, you continue to retain all ownership rights in such Content, and you continue to have the right to use your Content in any way you choose. By displaying or publishing (‘posting’) any Content on or through the MySpace Services, you hereby grant to MySpace.com a limited license to use, modify, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce, and distribute such Content solely on and through the MySpace Services.”

Without this clause, MySpace wouldn’t be able to, say, compress music that members upload or listen to music provided by other members. However, one good thing that arises from MySpace, perhaps, is its stringent deletion policy. Even one misdirection and the perpetrator’s MySpace profile disappears almost instantaneously. The administrators are very quick about handling requests for deletion or intervention in serious situations.

One of the worst things that have come out of MySpace is its lack of validity in W3C standards and also its nonexistent accessibility. Take a look at the markup on the home page, for example:

<TBODY>
<TR>
<TD vAlign=top align=left width=120><A id=[[Link]] href="http://www.myspace.com/seventeen_magazine"
target=_top>

HTML does not get much uglier than this. But this isn’t nearly as bad as some of the things you can find on members’ profiles. For example, Internet Explorer often crashes when it comes to profiles because of horribly used CSS or badly placed items in media such as Flash and QuickTime.

Luckily, some schools have begun to ban the site and get rid of malicious comments that have been circling around. As I emphasized in “The Curse of Social Networking”, two students at Air Academy High School, the school I will be attending next year, were found “bullying through MySpace.”

However, this incident doesn’t even compare to the other dangers you can find (you can register as young as fourteen years of age). Sexual predators lurk in communities within the site, and a recent news story even tells us that Islamic militants frequently browse the site. And this website allows fourteen–year–olds to join! In my mind, this is an atrocity to both the States and our dignity.

MySpace profiles contain a blog. A man named Amin Al–Mujaahid As–Salafi posted pictures of various known militants, even referring to the nineteen September 11 hijackers as the “Magnificent 19.” His profile was deleted soon after the aforementioned news story surfaced.

Lawmakers have begun to notice the terrible facts surrounding MySpace. A fourteen–year–old girl recently sued MySpace for $30 million, claiming that another user, 19, lied to her about his true identity. Afterward, she claimed, the user sexually assaulted her. The lawsuit states that “absolutely no meaningful protections or security measures [exist] to protect underage users.”

Here, I reiterate my disappointment in full.