Henry Jenkins (Co-Director of Comparative Media Studies at MIT) and i were interviewed by Sarah Wright of the MIT News Office about the proposed Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA). Although they only used a fraction of our interview in the MIT Tech Talk, we decided to publish the extended version online. We feel as though our response provides valuable information for parents, legislators, journalists and technologists. It summarizes a lot of what both Henry and i have been trying to get across when interviewed by the media.
Please, feel free to share this. You are also welcome to re-publish this interview (or portions of this interview) with proper attribution.
We introduce the “Abuse” section of our book “MySpace Safety: 51 Tips for Teens and Parents” with:
“If MySpace were a country, it would be the 15th most populous in the world. With a membership of that size, it is clearly not possible for the site to prevent every potential inappropriate or abusive action.”
It’s size alone (80 million accounts, 40 million active members) makes it statistically impossible for there not to be malicious people on MySpace. But, clearly, the word is out, and many would-be predators must now have concerns that any young teen who’s willing to set up a meeting might be a policeman or TV news show. The predators are still there, but now MySpace is under adult observation–just as city playgrounds are watched by adults, which makes the predators who walk down the street every day just keep walking (another point from our book).
One would hope the DOPA activity is just legislative grandstanding, with elections coming up. The act would appear to deny access to all blog-related sites in schools and libraries. The Economist recently compared today’s blogs with freeform newspapers that existed a century ago.
In attempting to block access to weblogs and any personalized site (i.e., a site that has the author’s “profile” posted) the DOPA law would essentially squelch access to micropublishers of all kinds to anyone whose only access to computers is schools or libraries.
Everyone who cares about freedom of speech should oppose the DOPA legislation.
Thanks for doing this danah — I’ve added it (and a link back here) to the anti-DOPA wiki.
Presumably the same would apply to sites like LiveJournal?
we teens should be able to have myspace when ever and when ever its free and yea some times its bad but we want it think about it well we should have it atleast in high school
The way i look at it is that the longer kids are on myspace the less they are out getting into all sorts of trouble and believe me you can end up learning alot from myspace. If you need answers to homework or help with homework for example there are many people to help. Yes you do get weirdos sometimes on myspace but then dont you get them everywhere being it outside or in, i would rather the weirdo on the net then to be directly in person with my daughter. At least at home i can keep an eye on her when she is out that is hard.
I am glad myspace is deleting predators accounts myspace should delete them. Myspace has a young starting age of 14 and there is no other means for them to control there issues then by deleting who they know are causing the problems.