School fears the threat of the tweet

If you’ve yet to hear the buzz on campus, Twitter has been blocked at FHC. Added to the list with Facebook and Myspace, the social networking site is no longer accessible at school. Students already are disgruntled.

According to pcmag.com, visits to Twitter have increased 1382% in the last year alone. In fact, the number of tweeters from February 2008 to February 2009 increased more than 14 times. Besides being a way to keep up with friends, Twitter also is considered a news source.

News networks such as CNN and MSNBC offer viewers a chance to “follow” them, to stay updated with current news stories.

Local hospital Progress West Health Care Center in O’Fallon uses the site to post emergency room wait times.

“It shouldn’t be blocked because it’s a source for news,” said junior and frequent tweeter Logan Miller.

Miller tweets, on average, around five times a day and wasn’t shocked to hear of the blocking.

“I’m not surprised, but still I’d like to have it at school,” said Miller. “It’s interesting because you can keep up with celebrities in real time, and all my friends use it.

The world found much of its news from Twitter during the Iranian election controversy back in June. Even Time Magazine has said the site is “determinedly now a big voice in real-time media.” Despite its news appeal, the district has deemed it necessary to block the site.

“Twitter has a lack of controls that can expose language and photos inappropriate for a school environment,” said IT Technician Mike Georg.

Because the site is open to the general public, almost anything can be posted.

Twitter’s rules state, “…we do not actively monitor user’s content, and will not censor user’s content, except in limited circumstances.” The site goes on to say that violations such as impersonation and “name squatting” will require suspensions of user accounts, but neglects to mention the use of curse words, offensive photos, etc.

“The technology committee of the district decided [to block Twitter],” said Georg. “It’s framed around regulations that require students to have a safe internet experience.”

While students like Miller assert a demand for news at school, the district claims it is most concerned about keeping its kids safe.