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friedman+column-rprts+myspace - Point of View Published...

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Point of View  - Published: Dec 31, 2007 12:30 AM  When reporters go into MySpace By Barbara Friedman and Meredith Golden CHAPEL HILL - Call it a reporting ritual for the Information Age. When breaking news  involves someone under 21, a reporter's first stop is likely to be a social network site such  as Facebook or MySpace, where millions of young adults disclose personal information  that may take the form of text, photos, audio and video. As a source, these kinds of sites can provide reporters with rich details that can add  valuable context to a story. But by their very nature, social network sites are mostly  unreliable. Since the object of the sites is to befriend as many other users as possible,  users tend to exaggerate claims or fabricate information to appear more interesting or  "fun" to their peers. The resulting photos (think drunken clowning at a frat party) and text ("dude, you were  so wasted last night") are but a glimpse into someone's persona -- just ask any college  student who's been disciplined for posting evidence of prohibited on-campus activity, or  passed over for an internship because his Facebook profile suggested he would spend  more time partying than working -- "That's not really me," or, "I just put that on there so  my friends could see it."
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