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MySpace acts to calm teen safety fears

April 1, 2006

MySpace.com, the fast-growing community website hugely popular with American teens, has removed 200,000 “objectionable” profiles from its site as it steps up efforts to calm fears about the safety of the network for young users.

The site, which allows users to create their own profiles with details of their interests that can be viewed and linked to by other MySpace.com “friends”, was acquired by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp last year and its phenomenal growth has placed it at the centre of the media company’s internet strategy.

Ross Levinsohn, head of News Corp’s internet division, said some of the material taken down contained “hate speech”. Some of it, he said, was “too risqué”.

“It’s a problem that’s endemic to the internet – not just MySpace,” Mr Levinsohn said. “The site, in the last two months, I think has become safer.”

With 66m users, and 250,000 new users signing up every day, MySpace has become one of the top internet destinations.

Peter Chernin, president and chief operating officer of News Corp, told the Financial Times that, although he and Mr Murdoch were very optimistic about its prospects when they acquired it last year, MySpace had exceeded their expectations.

“MySpace is more potent and powerful than even we knew,” Mr Chernin says. “And it is becoming a more integrated part of people’s lives.” However, as efforts grow to attract more advertisers to the site, News Corp is facing two challenges. Young users have to keep wanting to use the site, rather than switch to a “cooler” alternative.

Also, advertisers have to feel confident their reputation will not be tainted by “inappropriate” content. Teachers and parents are concerned that, because information on MySpace is publicly available, it might put teenagers in contact with predatory adults. In terms of retaining its appeal, Mr Chernin said users had to keep feeling the site was theirs. “We don’t want to change the fundamental look and feel of the site,” he said. “We do not want users to have any sense that it is corporatised

Harvard’s Paper on Israel Drew From Neo-Nazi Sites

March 30, 2006

BY MEGHAN CLYNE – Staff Reporter of the Sun
March 24, 2006
WASHINGTON – A prominent Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz, is alleging that the authors of a Harvard Kennedy School paper about the "Israel lobby," one of which is the Kennedy School's academic dean, culled sections of the paper from neo-Nazi and other anti-Israel hate Web sites.

"What we're discovering first of all is that the quotes that they use are not only wrenched out of context, but they are the common quotes that appear on hate sites," Mr. Dershowitz, who is identified in the paper as part of the "lobby," told The New York Sun yesterday.

"The wrenching out of context is done by the hate sites,and then [the authors] cite them to the original sources, in order to disguise the fact that they've gotten them from hate sites."

The paper, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," was written by the Kennedy School's Stephen Walt and a political science professor and the codirector of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago, John Mearsheimer, and published by the Kennedy School.

In the 83-page "working paper," the professors suggest that a vast network of journalists, think tanks, lobbyists, and largely Jewish officials have seized the foreign policy debate and manipulated America to invade Iraq.

The paper has drawn sharp criticism from prominent Harvard faculty, Harvard students, and a member of Congress, with many critics alleging that the document is riddled with factual inaccuracies and suffers from bias and faulty research.

According to Mr. Dershowitz, one of the paper's most prominent critics, Messrs. Mearsheimer and Walt not only demonstrated "shallowness" in their analysis,but also based that analysis on quotes and viewpoints widely available on the Web sites of hate groups.

The paper, the law professor said, was "simply a compilation of hateful paragraphs lifted from other sources and given academic imprimatur." Mr. Dershowitz said that he and his research assistants were currently working on a comparative chart showing the parallelism between parts of the Walt-Mearsheimer paper and quotes available on neo-Nazi Web sites.

While Mr. Dershowitz stressed that the comparison project was a "work in progress," one particularly noticeable example of the authors' alleged culling from hate sites was found in the Walt-Mearsheimer paper's use of a quote from a former executive editor of the New York Times, Max Frankel.

Under the section "Manipulating the Media," on pages 19 and 20 of the paper, Messrs. Walt and Mearsheimer write: "In his memoirs, for example, former Times executive editor Max Frankel acknowledged the impact his own pro-Israel attitude had on his editorial choices. In his words: 'I was much more deeply devoted to Israel than I dared to assert.' He goes on: 'Fortified by my knowledge of Israel and my friendships there, I myself wrote most of our Middle East commentaries. As more Arab than Jewish readers recognized, I wrote them from a pro-Israel perspective.'" The footnote cites Mr. Frankel's 560-page book, "The Times of My Life and My Life with the Times," published in 1999.

Yet the Frankel quote used by Messrs. Mearsheimer and Walt, Mr. Dershowitz said, is nearly identical to the quote used by a neo-Nazi Web site in its own take on Jewish press influence, "Jewish Influence in the Mass Media." The document, posted on Holywar.org, quotes more extensively from the same section in Mr. Frankel's memoir.

"Here's Max Frankel [for years the Executive Editor of the New York Times] and his thoughts about Israel in his work," the document proclaims. "'I was much more deeply devoted to Israel than I dared to assert. … Fortified by my knowledge of Israel and my friendships there, I myself wrote most of our Middle East commentaries. As more Arab than Jewish readers recognized, I wrote them from a pro-Israel perspective….'" Holywar.org also cites Mr. Frankel's memoir.

"He quotes Max Frankel, as if he read the whole 500 pages of Max Frankel?" Mr. Dershowitz said. "I promise you they did not read Max Frankel's whole book," the law professor said of the paper's authors. "How do I know that? We found the same exact quote on various hate sites."According to Mr. Dershowitz, other parts of the Walt-Mearsheimer paper bear striking similarities to postings on other anti-Jewish Web sites, including Nukeisrael.org, which purports to be the Web site of the "National Socialist Movement Northwest."

"They didn't do direct research, they didn't do primary research," Mr. Dershowitz said of the paper's authors. "They're just taking ideas that already existed out there in hate sites – in the work of Chomsky, in the work of Buchanan, and in the work of David Duke – and they're claiming it as their scholarship."

Phone and e-mail requests from the Sun for comment about the ongoing "lobby" paper situation to Messrs.Walt and Mearsheimer since Tuesday have not been returned.

Meanwhile, concern over the paper is continuing to mount at the Kennedy School, where a professor told the Sun yesterday that the faculty are buzzing with questions about whether a Harvard investigation will be launched into the paper's "poor scholarship," "in the same way poor scholarly work and plagiarism have generated past investigations and, on occasion, the stripping of tenure."

The professor also told the Sun that one of the Kennedy School's most prominent faculty members, David Gergen, had been contacting prominent Jewish donors to allay concerns about the furor generated by the Walt-Mearsheimer paper.

Last night Mr. Gergen told the Sun that he had "been in conversations, at my own initiative, with a number of people on the outside, including some of our benefactors."

"Because obviously there are some people out there who are concerned," Mr. Gergen continued. "People read the newspapers, they watch the blogs, and they call and say 'What's going on at the Kennedy School? What's going on at Harvard,'" he added.

Still, the professor said he had "been very impressed with how supportive and understanding people are, about the situation, and about recognizing the importance of academic freedom even as they disagree with the contents of the article."

I want to share my feelings with the world

March 28, 2006

If you think so, start posting them in this site