Myspace.com, a popular social networking site where users can create profiles and link to their friends, is being banned in many Rhode Island schools. According to the non-profit Rhode Island Network for Educational Technology, a group that manages Internet connections for the state’s school districts, 80% of the schools have installed filters to screen out the website.
Myspace has maintained its spot in the top five of most visited English language websites according to Alexa.com and ranks just behind Ebay in popularity. Its claimed 56 million users create personal webpages which can include pictures, blogs and links to their friends. They can also send internal instant messages to other myspace.com users. Teenagers have flocked to myspace.com and this has caused much consternation to school and law enforcement officials.
Recently, several people have been arrested for trying to arrange meetings with underage teenagers on the website. In New Hampshire, police arrested a man that was trying to meeting a 14-year-old girl, who was actually an undercover police officer. In addition, a Portland man was arrested recently when he tried to arrange a meeting with a 12-year-old girl in Vancouver.
Threats and objectionable videos posted on user pages are also becoming a problem. A 16-year-old Virginia boy was arrested for threatening to plant explosives at his high school and police seized a video clip of a bomb exploding from his myspace.com page. There have also been death threats posted in the past on myspace pages against both teachers and students.
While most of the schools already have banned myspace.com, there is no state mandate to block the website. In a recent interview with Reuters, Elliot Krieger, spokesman for the Rhode Island Department of Education, said that each district is free to decide if myspace.com or any other website can be blocked.