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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Tomgram: Nick Turse, The Pentagon Befriends MySpace.com

Congressman Mark Foley (R. Florida), who co-chaired the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children and billed himself as an enemy of pedophiles and online predators everywhere, just resigned over emails and instant messages sent to underage male congressional pages who "said the congressman, under the AOL Instant Messenger screen name Maf54, made repeated references to sexual organs and acts." Moreover, the Washington Post and the New York Times Sunday report that this information was known to the Republican leadership in late 2005 and widely available to top Republicans by last Spring.

It's already clear that they were far more eager to retain Foley's House seat than do a thing about his gross dereliction of duty. They didn't even bother to remove him from his caucus on children. In fact, they were so eager to keep the matter under wraps that they didn't even inform Michigan's Rep. Dale E. Kildee, the sole Democrat on the House Page Board, set up to protect the congressional pages from just such advances, about the matter (though Republicans on the Board were informed). It's a remarkable, still-unfolding little tale of political hypocrisy that might even endanger House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert on the eve of the mid-term elections.

In recent times, Congress, while not policing its own, has put much energy into the matter of the possible cyberspace stalking of the young by sexual predators at sites like MySpace.com, home to a zillion young "friends" and "friends of friends." As it turns out, these days there are predators of all sorts roaming the Internet looking to lure young bodies their way. In the case of the Pentagon, which, Nick Turse reports, has only recently made its "friendly" debut at the wildly popular MySpace website, the interest in those bodies isn't sexual, but -- given the state of George Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- the phrase "e-cannon fodder" certainly comes to mind. If you want to know more, check out Turse's latest below and then consider the deeper recruitment desperation of the Pentagon and the way it's transforming our military in his previous Tomdispatch piece, "Dirty Dozen, The Pentagon's 12-Step Program to Create a Military of Misfits." Tom

With Friends Like These…

The Militarization of MySpace
By Nick Turse

Those young years can be hard ones. The acne, the awkwardness, the angst. That may be one reason why, if you're between your early teens and your mid-twenties, you may already be making "friends" in the cozy cyber-confines of MySpace.com, the social networking website which bills itself as "an online community that lets you meet your friends' friends." At MySpace, each user can create a customized webpage or "profile," upload photos (only from your best angle and then photo-shopped to the hilt), blog around the clock, and -- most important of all -- court those "friends."

In an eerie reflection of the very world many MySpace scenesters undoubtedly plunge into cyberspace to avoid, the measure of success at the site is how much you can increase your page's popularity. You do this by posting attention-grabbing content, breathlessly soliciting other users, putting up provocative pictures to attract attention, sending out "bulletins" to your existing "friends," and asking them to "whore" you out to their list of friends. With its multimillions of "friends" to garner, the site is wildly popular -- and not just for insecure teens either.

MySpace has become a magnet for those that want, for one reason or another, to draw young eyeballs (and often young pocketbooks). Colleges, corporate products like Toyota's Yaris and the Honda Element, even fictional characters like Ricky Bobby. from the movie Talladega Nights or fast-food outlet Wendy's minimalist cartoon pitchman Smart have already gotten into the MySpace act.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

2 comment(s):

hey annamarie....i know you've been having computer problems and dying to get this posted....well, at last!!!

its all such a sham and a sad one at that....politicians over children. sickos! all who knew should be implilcated and tried. will that happen under bush's reign of terror?

good parallel pieces.

By Blogger Scout, at 1:45 AM  

Probably not. so many heinous acts will simply be swept under the rug, or the perps will get slaps on wrists. Yuck!!!

By Blogger Annamarie, at 11:45 PM  

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