A Huge Dilemma for Social Networking Sites

The social networking space, with sites like MySpace and Facebook, is reflective of our interests. Unfortunately, some of those interests are unhealthy – even deadly:

“Vulnerable young people are being lured into developing eating disorders by MySpace and Facebook online forums that glamorise extreme dieting.”

link: Eating disorders from MySpace

The question is whether to ban such sites. This places the burden of censorship on the networking sites – and it is a position that they would rather avoid. Once placed in the role of censors, a whole myriad of issues present themselves. If such dieting / food related sites are restricted on MySpace, Facebook and similar sites, then those individuals who are interested in this topic will find other means of connecting. Blogs, for example, are difficult to restrict.

The internet is reflecting a health problem. In this case, it is the messenger – and it may provide a unique insight with the unfettered comments from people who wrestle with these issues daily. The internet may also be one of the few places to reach people with this problem – a health issue characterized by secrecy and hiding. The question becomes whether exposure of this issue on the social networking sites fosters the problem or whether it is a means to assist some people caught in a deadly food crisis. It is a critical question – and a huge dilemma for the social networking sites.

Catherine Forsythe
Director of Operations
FlyingHamster: http://flyinghamster.com/

[tags]networking sites, MySpace, Facebook, eating disorders, censorship, security, assistance[/tags]