It would be wise for parents and students to heed this warning: MySpace is open to the public and anything you put up there can and will be used against you.
Fair or not, police and schools are pursuing students for what they say and do on the popular Web site MySpace.com. The rules for the Internet still are evolving, and one man's free speech is another man's libel.
Last week, Norwalk Police responded to a call from a teacher after a St. Paul student put up a MySpace page that falsely claimed to belong to the teacher. The page featured a man's face over the body of a scantily clad woman, according to the police report, and also contained the line: "I rape young girls and look down their shirt with pride." The 14-year-old could face charges of being an "unruly child."
Last year, a Norwalk High School student was suspended for comments she put up about a NHS administrator that were deemed disrespectful.
While there is a big difference between disrespectful comments and accusations of rape, the theme is the same: Administrators and police will investigate comments made on the Web site and mete out punishment accordingly.
The St. Paul boy told police and his mother that he thought his page was private. That is a common mistake. Since the beginning of time, teenagers have been at-odds with authority figures. However, with the development of new technology and therefore new forums to vent frustrations last generation's muttered curse words and scribbles on the bathroom stall have become this generation's flashy Web sites. The big difference is that Web sites can be traced to their users.
Students should consider these cautionary tales and think twice about posting anything online they wouldn't want to say out loud in front of a teacher or their parents.