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Are the moral panics over? January 21, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Moral panic, Parents, Social Networking, Youngsters.
3 comments

In Denmark, Facebook has become so mainstream that you can expect all kinds of people at all ages to have a profile on the site. Apparently, Denmark is the second largest Facebook country measured in profiles per citizens (even though the large number of profiles probably does not equal the actual amount of users).

Today I received a message on Facebook from an 80 year old man who told me that he uses Facebook to keep in touch with his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And he is not alone. Many grown up’s are now communicating with their children on Facebook (which I have recently been giving some interviews on). Also those children and young people who normally use Arto, Skum, NationX or other Danish social network sites that are targeted particularity at young people. At the moment I am receiving many friendship requests on FB from my 12-16 year old informants. At least it is safe to say that several generations are now represented on the same site.

And this has made me think: Are the moral panics over? Have social network sites become so naturalised in society that the previous moral panics concerning e.g. Arto in Denmark or MySpace in the US have faded out?  It has been a while since journalists have focused on the fears and dangers of young peoples’ use of social network sites, and when I am being interviewed they certainly ask different questions than they did a couple of years ago. Also, parents ask me radically different questions when I am giving talks at schools. And politicians are eagerly embracing social network sites and social media in general.

Perhaps we are over the worst moral panics when it comes to youth and online social networking? At least I find it interesting if I through my research into this area during the past four of five years have witness this transition.

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Online predators and moral panics June 11, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Arto, Internet Safety, Moral panic, MySpace, News media.
7 comments

The past couple of weeks the Danish social network site for teenagers, Arto, has repeatedly appeared in the news media. This is due to the fact that a journalist from the Danish tabloid newspaper Ekstra Bladet created a false profile on Arto where she pretended to be a 13 year old girl and got into contact with a number of older men. During a year the undercover journalist communicated through MSN Messenger with four older men (from the age of 35 – 72) who all had a keen interest in meeting the girl IRL. The correspondence between the men and the apparent 13 year old girl had many sexual undertones and some of the men openly indicated that they wanted to have sex with, what they believed was, the 13 year old girl.

When the physical meetings were finally arranged the news paper revealed the truth and the following days they published a number of articles where they – one by one and with video documentation – exposed the men as predators and child molesters.

We have previously seen similar stories in the Danish news media, and the purpose of this blog post is not to comment on these specific news stories, which are part of the ongoing moral panic, which I commented on in an article I wrote in October 2006. However, the public debate that follows sensational cases like these is interesting. (more…)

Lecture on Social Networking and Virtual Ethnography March 16, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Aalborg University, Academic, Arto, Moral panic, Social Networking, Social networking sites, Virtual Ethnography.
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Today I gave my first “real” lecture as a PhD Student at the University. The students were from 6th semester at Communication Studies and the subject was social networking sites (with Arto as case), moral panic, virtual ethnography and Nexus Analysis.

If you are interested in these subjects you can check out my PowerPoint presentation from the lecture which is available for download here (unfortunately, it is mostly in Danish, but there are many pictures and social networking examples :-)).

New article on the fight against ‘fakers’ February 9, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Arto, Fakers, Internet Safety, Moral panic, Social Networking.
12 comments

Recently, I wrote an article for the Danish magazine Månedsmagasinet Skolen about how to see through fake profiles on social networking sites like Arto . The article was part of a special theme issue on internet safety published on Safer Internet Day 2007. The whole magazine is available for download here.

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This is a massage in a faker’s guest book on Arto. It says: “We piss on fakers”. As the picture and the statement show the fight aganist fakers is really strong on Arto.