Bebo’s Ballymena bid to beat bigots…

BALLYMENA schools and police met representatives of young people’s social networking website Bebo today to discuss how the company should deal with online sectarianism. This was prompted by the spate of threats message board users made to other children on the site in the wake of Michael McIlveen’s murder. Some of those kids were later charged with the murder, and I have a feeling some of the organisers might be as worried about legalities of the accusations as they are for the childrens’ safety. Of course, it wouldn’t be fair to label all the Bebo content about Micky-bo’s murder as hate-driven, as this heartfelt memorial to the boy illustrates. What is clear is that Bebo’s young users are just using the site as they would any other communication tool, especially text messages. Perhaps it’s the failure to recognise that they are communicating in one medium in the language of another – conflating the notions of a private, one-to-one communication with a widespread, one-to-many publication – that’s part of the problem. Regardless, knowing how hard it is to police Slugger, I can’t imagine how a massive site like Bebo will crack down on online, colloquial txt msg sectarianism. Threats can be reported and deleted, but WTF duz bebo do about this kinda crak, hi? Would they even recognise half of our slaggings of themmuns?

  • The other half’s niece is addicted to this site (she is 12) and to be honest I find it disturbing and am quite the nag about it.
    Most of the family think it is harmless,
    but not only is it the sectarian stuff I worry about(I doubt any of the weans actually know anything about the difference between green/your gang, our gang thing) but the sexually explicit nature of a lot of the posts.
    Or am I just a fuddy duddy? There’s no equivalent I can think of when I was that age, just sitting on the phone all night talking to people you spent all day with.

  • Alan Law

    This is just nonsense.

    Bebo is not the problem and by finding ways to repress the views of the kids isn’t the solution either.

    The problem is a social one affecting society that will ensure some can justify the murder of a child and others vow vengeance.

    I suspect the motivation of the schools has more to do with the fact that many involved come from the middle class grammars and that they don’t want the mud sticking to their reputations.

  • Valenciano

    I found Bebo very mild and restrained in comparison to the sectarian hatefest in Yahoo chat rooms, most of which came from people whose balls had obviously dropped at least a decade earlier. Maybe it’s us oul fellas that need to be showin da wee uns a better xmpl?

  • George

    Valenciano,
    I totally disagree. Within 20 minutes of looking I had read the vilest of sectarian abuse all the way up to putting up pictures of people, saying they are next to be killed.

    The crazy thing is that virtually all of them put up pictures of themselves, their family and their school.