MySpace Undeletes Ted Stevens Spoof

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MySpace has lots of rules for its members. There’s no nudity allowed. Nor does the site tolerate copyright and trademark infringement or deceptive advertising. And for a minute there, it appeared MySpace members were also not allowed to make fun of Senator Ted Stevens.

Recent law school graduate Andrew Raff liked Sen. Stevens’ explanatory speech on the system of tubes making up various internets so much that he wrote a song about it. Raff created “The Ted Stevens Internet Fan Club” on MySpace and posted his song entitled “The Internet is a Series of Tubes” for all to hear.

Three days later Raff’s account was deleted.

He received a notice from MySpace informing him that his profile was deleted because of a credible complaint about the violation of the site’s terms of services. Raff sifted through the TOS and only found one term that he may have violated:

MySpace.com reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to reject, refuse to post or remove any posting (including private messages) by you, or to restrict, suspend, or terminate your access to all or any part of the MySpace Services at any time, for any or no reason, with or without prior notice, and without liability.

That’s only part right. MySpace was held liable, at least in the court of public opinion. A little press from Boing Boing, Wired Magazine, Public Knowledge, and the Washington Post led to an admission that the song was “incorrectly deleted.”

But as Public Knowledge’s Art Bodsky points out, the timing and details make the deletion and reinstatement a little fishy:

Frankly, though, it boggles the mind to think that of all the material posted on MySpace, one complaint against one semi-obscure song, is enough to get tossed off the site. It had to be more than a simple complaint filed by the complaint form on the site, because MySpace “will not honor delete requests” sent with the form.

He also mentions how once accounts are deleted they cannot be reinstated.

So one complaint from a “credible” source, seemingly offline, got the song booted from MySpace. But why?

Bodsky goes on to detail a bit of MySpace parent company News Corp.’s relationship with Sen. Stevens and the stake the Rupert Murdoch-owned company has not only in Net Neutrality legislation but also in another Stevens-backed broadcasting legislation. Of course we already knew that News Corp. was Stevens’ biggest campaign contributor.

So nobody’s saying that News Corp. and its interests had anything to do with Raff’s disappearance from MySpace. It’s just interesting when you think about it. And could it be an example of what happens when the Internet is no longer a neutral open medium?


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MySpace Undeletes Ted Stevens Spoof
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