Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Strike two, myspace...

It seems that myspace is beginning a beta test of tracking software intended for parents to track what their kids are doing on myspace.

I'm going to lay out a few very rough ideas on why this isn't a very good idea which won't solve all that much. It's ridiculous to me that people would hand over permission for a huge corporation like News Corp. to have anything to do with tracking what they and even more worrisome, their kids, do online.

1) How many kids use their friend's computers? I know that when I was a kid most of the bad things I did were not at home where I knew my parents could catch me. Probably about 99% of the things I did that I shouldn't have done (including playing with firecrackers, lighting stuff on fire, smoking for the first time) were done while I was at friend's houses. What's stopping kids from just getting on myspace at their friend's house? Parents are better off telling their kids why they shouldn't do things than to just not say anything and then try to catch them doing something wrong. I can pretty much guarantee that they're doing a whole lot more than you can possibly even hope to catch. (Especially when it's computer-related. Many kids can outsmart their parents when it comes to anything on a computer.)

2) How do we know this program is not secretly tracking everything we do on our computers and reporting back to myspace's parent corporation News Corp.?

It has been reported that News Corp. was mainly interested in myspace to get information from its users in order to get better targeted ads in front of the primarily young audience that uses myspace but fast forwards commercials on their DVRs. See this quote from the article linked above:

"And most importantly, Myspace has detailed logs of its users' preferences, online behaviour and personal information.

That could help the company tailor what it does to the ever-more-discerning market which Mr Murdoch believes he has identified."

Now think about adding additional tracking information on top of all of the information that was already willingly given to them by myspace's users... scary!

3) When did we outsource the responsibilities of parenting? When did it become News Corp/myspace's responsibility to keep tabs on what your kids are doing online? What happened to sitting in the same room with your child on the computer and occasionally walking past? What happened to limiting time on the computer? What happened to telling your kids not to talk to strangers?

It's NOT ANYONE'S RESPONSIBILITY BUT THE PARENTS OF THE CHILDREN to keep track of what they're doing. People say "myspace is just giving them a tool to help" but when was the last time you gave that kind of power to someone who is trying to make money off of you?


I'm sure I could go on and on with reasons that this isn't the best idea I've ever heard... but I'm sure that people will still download it in an attempt to divert more blame and responsibility of parenting off onto entities that they can sue when something goes wrong...

Myspace... this is strike 2. I know you won't miss me as a user but I can only hope that I'm not the only one who doesn't agree with the direction you've taken.

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