::Letter: Wake Wrong To Ban MySpace
Letter To The Editor
Thursday May 10, 2007
Background Info: The Wake County Public Libraries said it would begin blocking access on library computers to the popular MySpace.com website on March 1st and may start censoring other "nuisance" websites on the web in a few months.
Public libraries are a place for everyone to go to access information. Today, this information ranges from a wide set of sources: books, journals, videos, microfiches, and most commonly, the internet.
The internet has taken the world by storm, delivering whatever information a person wants with the click of a mouse. Along with many other inventions in the world, this amazing tool has been perverted into a device used for sharing pornography, access to personal records and the like.
Public libraries have always been important to children. They were created to enhance learning and to establish a locale where children were able to read books, look up whatever information they want and maybe even pet the resident hamster or floppy-eared rabbit.
Libraries have long been safe havens where children and adults alike can leave the real world and escape into the world of books, information and learning. When entering a library, one is usually presented with a comfortable atmosphere.
As a child, I remember enjoying the quietness of the library and the kindness radiating from those who worked there. I always felt at ease while reading books or researching information.
Public libraries have remained safe, learning filled places until the perversions of the internet found their way to networking websites.
Lately, one of the most popular reasons people access the internet is to communicate and network with other people, most often through MySpace.
MySpace is a vastly popular online community where users can share information such as photographs, videos, interests, their names and just about any other information they wish.
It is a great way for people to get to know each other and to communicate, although perversions have taken hold of what was originally meant for the good of the people.
When interviewing two students, I found that people can spend hours each day looking up one another and finding new people to communicate with via MySpace. Neither student ever admitted to using MySpace to stalk others nor have they ever searched for pornography on the site.
However, one stated that she has unexpectedly come across pornographic material on another member's online profile. She was not "MySpace friends" with the person but was observing the profile based on similar interests.
Obviously, public libraries do not want children accessing pornographic websites; therefore blocks have been put on any website that seems threatening toward the children. The blocks against pornography have been effective on most sites, yet on MySpace, pornography has a way of getting around these filters.
Recently, the public libraries in Wake County, North Carolina have banned the use of MySpace on their computers.
The block began on March 1, 2007 and the Wake County Libraries say that it will monitor this filter for effectiveness for at least the next three months.
When addressing the issue, Libraries Director Thomas L. Moore stated, "They've been bringing up some graphic pornographic sites on our PCs that children have inadvertently seen, and we just can't tolerate that. It's become an attractive nuisance."
An attractive nuisance, in legal terms, refers to property that attracts children but also endangers their safety, such as unsafe swimming pools or faulty playground equipment.
To completely remove access to MySpace from public libraries is too harsh of a resolution.
Of course no one wants their children to be accessing pornographic material nor do they want their children to be stalked, but to completely remove a website that people use for hours on end in public libraries removes some of the meaning of "public" from public libraries.
Restricting access to a park or any other public space no longer makes that area public.
Restricting access on websites is the same situation, removing the public's access from a public place. Throughout history libraries have been a place where people have come to access many types of information.
One such example is Banned Books Week, an event that has been held every September since 1982. During the week libraries make available books that carry with them unusual and unpopular ideas: ideas that go against the grain of the typical American read. Public libraries have long provided all types of information pertaining to the public; unlike school libraries or other special libraries that may cater toward more scholarly production.
Restricting access to MySpace strays from what public libraries have been carrying out throughout their existence.
Prohibiting the use of MySpace from all of the people that use it everyday at the Wake County Public Libraries is not keeping with the history of public libraries.
Yes, there may be some access to information that parents and library directors do not want children to see, but implementing a ban is over the top and unnecessary. Parents should watch, or strictly enforce limits on their children's activity on MySpace.
By doing so, parents will be able to ensure that their children only access the profiles of individuals they already know. This will remove almost all of the instances where children may come across pornographic material, because the child's real life friends will likely not post pornographic material on their profile.
Also, parents can insist that profiles be set to the private option, so that only people who are their children's friends can see the whole online profile. Many people that use the Wake County Public Library's internet access for MySpace do so because they are unable to in their own homes.
Removing the site from their use is unreasonable. For many MySpace users, the website is a massive part of their lives. It is a modern way for people to connect and to communicate.
I have personally witnessed several members of Elon University's international dining staff using MySpace to connect with their friends and families at home.
Although I am not a MySpace user, I can see the importance that it has in many of its users' lives. I know that several of my friends would be very upset if they were no longer allowed to access MySpace.
Other than libraries banning the use of MySpace completely, I feel that the responsibility of creating a child-safe website lies in the hands of MySpace.
I cannot comprehend how MySpace can allow pornographic material to be displayed on its website, especially when it is known to be such a popular website amongst young people.
Instead of public library board members debating on whether MySpace should be blocked, people should consolidate to address News Corporation, the owners of MySpace, to stress the importance of pornography filters on the MySpace website.
With the ban in place in Wake County Public Libraries and others possibly on their way, in states such as New Hampshire, I hope that MySpace will act quickly to place filters on its users' content.
Public libraries are a place where people should be able to access whatever information they want, not a place where the right to information is held back from the public.
Elon College, NC ::