Social networking ban: good or bad?

A bill has been approved by the House of Representatives that requires K12 schools and libraries that receive Federal funding to block social networking sites, so that minors cannot access them.

It is a kind of darned if you do, darned if you don't situation. In general, I oppose government meddling in what we look at online. But sites like Facebook and MySpace are filled with hardcore pornography, and I don't think our kids really need to be exposed to that in the middle school computer lab. Worse, it is easy for sexual predators to browse such sites and pick out likely victims--kids are putting pictures, their names, and even their phone numbers and street addresses on the sites.

It would be better if these bans were voluntary, developed by schools and library staff in cooperation with parents, as local standards, rather than having the heavy and often arbitrary hand of the Federal government. Pornography really is the scourge of the Internet, and it is hard to figure out how to protect our right to access what we think is important versus the need to protect children.