Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Social Networks Gone Wrong: Bullying on Facebook

Facebook grows to $300 million, Experimental P...Image by Ivan Walsh via Flickr

In a terrifying development, some middle school children in California organized a series of attacks on redheaded students at their school. Their organizing tool was Facebook. This is an example of the dark side of the social networking networks. Here is a news story from the Ventura County Star.

Now I know that redheads are not children with disabilities, but this was an example of bullying against a group of students. And as we have discussed in previous posts, bullying against kids with disabilities has caused numerous legal problems for school districts. So I find this topic to be relevant to this blog.

Apparently, the students misunderstood some episode of the television show South Park as a call for violence against "gingers." This speaks to the lack of intelligence, as well as the cruelty, of the students involved. But this illustrates the potential problems involved with the otherwise valuable social networking sites. I am a big advocate of the powers of Facebook and these other sites to spread information. Indeed, I am the administrator of the Facebook special education law group, and many related groups with links on the lefthand side of the blog.

But when people have bad motivations, these sites can be dangerous. I am aware of the legal pitfalls and the strong policy against censorship, but I think that these sites may need to police themselves to prevent these incidents in the future. What are your thoughts?

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