Blogs & Myspace

Two interesting articles I read this morning. I picked up the complementary USA Today outside my hotel room and read an article called, "Students, officials locking horns over blogs."

The article reported three school districts taking disciplinary action against students because of statements made on a blog -- this included one student being expelled from a school in the Indianapolis, Indiana area.

As you can imagine, this has re-sparked the free speech and first amendment debate. Can school districts discipline students for statements made on a blog? Can a student go over the line when making free speech statements? Who determines where that line is? Apparently, the courts are now getting involved and will contribute to the debate.

For me, in reading this article, I support what these school districts did. I agree that there is a fine line between the perceptions of venting frustrations and criticism and the perception of personal attacks. I also agree that school districts have the right to preserve the learning process the best that they can despite comments made by students. This attorney disagrees...

Says [Tom] Clarke, the San Francisco attorney: "Sometimes I'm very surprised how paranoid school districts are about what is said about teachers. That seems to be a focus of a lot of their concern, that nobody bad-mouth their fine, exemplary teaching."
What if the shoe was on the other foot? What if a teacher was perceived to be overly critical of a student? Does the teacher have free speech rights, even if a case could be made that it was constructive criticism?

You know the answer to that one. This teacher would be sued for student harassment, a demand would be made for the teacher to be fired, and maybe even to have the teaching license to be removed. You can’t have it both ways, and that’s how I see these cases going.

The second article I read this morning was from the hotel complementary Wall Street Journal. It describes people completely removing their listings from social sites like myspace and facebook in the article titled, “MySpace, Bye Space” (free article on today only). There are two reasons people are starting to rebel: ads and spam.

There's no question, however, that MySpace's recent popularity has brought with it a proliferation of spam that has annoyed some users. Many advertisers take advantage of the "friend request" function and send out requests that are really just advertisements.

And programs have cropped up that can automatically send mass friend requests to MySpace users -- in short, a new generation of email spam. Sites with names like and sell the programs starting at $19.95.

There was a time when I considered getting a myspace listing to try to further promote my blog. I think I’m comfortable passing on that idea now. It’ll be interesting to see if there is a trend over the next few months of myspace profile deletions because of ads and spam.