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Saturday Block Party

n552858161_68659_8383.jpgMatt Stoller (via email) points to an interesting article by Danah Boyd on class and the use of MySpace and Facebook, which had this interesting observation:

A month ago, the military banned MySpace but not Facebook. This was a very interesting move because the division in the military reflects the division in high schools. Soldiers are on MySpace; officers are on Facebook. Facebook is extremely popular in the military, but it’s not the SNS of choice for 18-year old soldiers, a group that is primarily from poorer, less educated communities. They are using MySpace. The officers, many of whom have already received college training, are using Facebook. The military ban appears to replicate the class divisions that exist throughout the military. I can’t help but wonder if the reason for this goes beyond the purported concerns that those in the military are leaking information or spending too much time online or soaking up too much bandwidth with their MySpace usage.

MySpace is the primary way that young soldiers communicate with their peers. When I first started tracking soldiers’ MySpace profiles, I had to take a long deep breath. Many of them were extremely pro-war, pro-guns, anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, pro-killing, and xenophobic as hell. Over the last year, I’ve watched more and more profiles emerge from soldiers who aren’t quite sure what they are doing in Iraq. I don’t have the data to confirm whether or not a significant shift has occurred but it was one of those observations that just made me think. And then the ban happened. I can’t help but wonder if part of the goal is to cut off communication between current soldiers and the group that the military hopes to recruit. Many young soldiers’ profiles aren’t public so it’s not about making a bad public impression. That said, young soldiers tend to have reasonably large networks because they tend to accept friend requests of anyone that they knew back home which means that they’re connecting to almost everyone from their high school. Many of these familiar strangers write comments supporting them. But what happens if the soldiers start to question why they’re in Iraq? And if this is witnessed by high school students from working class communities who the Army intends to recruit?

With opposition to the war at an all-time high it’s no surprise that there would be attempts to disrupt any public communication of dismay from the military, but it’s an interesting implication of the social networking world. It’s sad that the fabric that could otherwise keep soldiers connected to their communities has to be cut off so Joe Lieberman can continue to perpetuate the delusion that the surge is a raging success, but that is the world we live in.

On the Facebook front, starting in the next few weeks we’re going to be allowing voluntary registration on FDL that will allow you to list your Facebook page such that an icon will appear next to your name when you comment.  It’s been an interesting week in the FDL Facebook group where people coalesced to communicate when the toobz were on the fritz and many have enjoyed the ability to put faces to screen names. If you haven’t signed up for a Facebook account or joined the FDL group, we’ve now got over 600 members. It’s free and for the technol-limited there is plenty of help in the comments section for the asking.

(FDL Facebook photo “Mom’s Orchids” by Linda Seaman) 

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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