MySpace users facing potential legal problems

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MySpace.com users’ freedom of speech could be under attack.

There has been an increase in court cases dealing with blog postings on MySpace. Most of the cases involve students who posted inappropriate or vulgar comments about their schools and the employees.

Because speech is protected by the First Amendment, many MySpace users are upset their posts are being attacked.

Todd F. Simon, professor of journalism and mass communications, said the Internet has been protected under the First Amendment for a while, and First-Amendment issues probably will not have as much of an effect on college-age students as younger students.

“The Supreme Court held back in the 1990s that the Internet is protected by the First Amendment, so this isn’t new and won’t change anything,” Simon said. “It looks to me like the authorities probably argued that high-school students have weaker First Amendment rights than older people. So it wouldn’t affect K-State students differently either way.”

Simon also said the government and schools cannot put any limitations on a web page like MySpace.com or Facebook.com.

“Most people don’t read the terms and conditions when they sign up for MySpace, or for e-mail, or anything else online for that matter,” Simon said. “The service provider, MySpace, can put limits on your account. But the government, be it a public high school or a state university, cannot put limits on your MySpace account.”

Laura Koger, sophomore in theater, said she does not check her MySpace account more than two or three times a week, but she thinks MySpace should be protected under the First Amendment.

“I think it should be protected because essentially MySpace is created not only for communication, but it’s also a medium for the arts and lets artists put their work out there for other people to see and hear,” Koger said.

John Rzeszut, sophomore in marketing, said he uses his MySpace page at least once a day and believes the name MySpace says it all. He does not think the government or anyone else should be allowed to set limitations.

“It’s your site, and you can say what you want – people don’t have to read it or believe it. You don’t force anyone to visit your site,” Rzeszut said. “If you get offended, don’t look at it. That’s why it’s called MySpace.”

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