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Censorship Social Networks The Internet

Illinois University Restricts Access To Social Media, Online Political Content 130

Posted by timothy
from the teach-the-controversy dept.
onproton writes Northern Illinois University recently began restricting student access to web pages that contain "illegal or unethical" content which, according to University policy, includes resources used for "political activities...and the organization or participation in meetings, rallies and demonstrations." A student raised concerns after attempting to access the Wikipedia page for Westboro Baptist Church, and receiving a filter message informing him that his access of this page would likely violate the University's Acceptable Use Policy, along with a warning that "all violations would be reviewed." This has lead to questions about whether some policies that restrict student access to information are in the best interest of the primary goal of education.
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Illinois University Restricts Access To Social Media, Online Political Content

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  • Turn it around: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @06:07PM (#47733635)

    An AUP governs the use of campus equipment and services.

    I clicked the link and read the article, and there's gasping outrage about how they're "limiting free speech" by telling students they *also* can't use the campus computer systems for things like political messaging, meetings, rallies, or anything else - in other words, no, you can't spam the student body.

    And for those of you who think that it's not right that they'd limit that sort of usage, think long and hard about this:

    - Campus Christian Ministry decides to start spamming the entire campus with pro-life messages.
    - Young Republicans club start spamming the entire campus with messages calling for the impeachment of Pres. Obama.
    - ROTC program starts spamming the entire campus with messages encouraging students to sign up for military service.

    Where's your unfettered free speech now?

  • Re:Turn it around: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TapeCutter (624760) on Friday August 22, 2014 @07:04PM (#47733889) Journal
    The right to free speech does not mean a university has to provide the publishing infrastructure to make that speech. By logical extension of your standards universities must also provide spray cans so that students can spray paint their thoughts onto the campus buildings. Also Fred Phelps is not a defender of free speech , he's a serial pest who harrases people at family funerals, I really wish more of his victims used the "fighting words" defense as an excuse to beat the shit out of the repulsive little turd.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @07:09PM (#47733915)
    Our internet usage policy at the labs was ANYTHING that is legal, including porn. You did get told got to a corner and turn your monitor as not to offend anyone with your fetishes. The stories the lab assistants told. Labs were also open to the public, you just had to register and have proof of local permanent residency, and you got booted if a student needed a spot. Any punishment the University could dole out, including expulsion, was able to be overruled by a jury of students, so long as it wasn't over anything illegal by law or not paying your tuition. Very liberal and democratic. The student government had the power to block renovations and new buildings being built. They have a lot of say in the Universities finances, including raising funds from alumni and having new buildings built.

    The student body as a whole had roughly equal power to the management, but everyone was respectful of their duties. I enjoyed working there as a student employee. Administration people were very nice, teachers were nice, co-workers were nice, students were nice. It was a great time.
  • Re:Turn it around: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lgw (121541) on Friday August 22, 2014 @07:19PM (#47733973) Journal

    right to free speech does not mean a university has to provide the publishing infrastructure to make that speech.

    But this isn't about publishing. This is about web access. What was your point again?

    Also Fred Phelps is not a defender of free speech , he's a serial pest who harrases people at family funerals

    The man is a freaking icon of free speech. Only hateful, harmful, ugly, disagreeable speech needs any protection in the first place. I can't think of a living speaker who offends my more than that guy has. If you don't support his right to free speech, you're simply unclear on the concept.

  • by Voyager529 (1363959) <`voyager529' `at' `yahoo.com'> on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:47PM (#47734871)

    According to one of the comments in TFA, https:/// [https] worked fine, so they were only blocking HTTP. This leaves all the other suspects to their devices - the cornucopia of IM clients, VPN traffic, torrent traffic, usenet, diaspora/retroshare, in-game discussion via Steam or Second Life, IRC, etc. Sure, some of those are summarily blocked, but it seems they're doing such a poor job of acting in malice that I'd deem it sufficient to chalk the issue up to incompetence instead.

  • by ArmoredDragon (3450605) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @12:49AM (#47735211)

    In the age of the internet, if you have to pay someone to sit you in a room and teach you like a trained monkey you have serious problems that go way beyond education.

    I'll actually say that's quite wrong. At least it is for me anyways. I actually learned networking from the Cisco Network Academy at my local community college. The teachers there combined their literally decades of field experience with Cisco's curriculum, and I can honestly say just from that alone I probably know more than some of the people I've worked with in the past who themselves have been in their jobs for decades, and are where they are from learning it the way you describe...in fact some of the things I've seen some people do wrong are just downright scary from a security perspective.

    Now if you want to make that argument about typical schools with high tuition rates, there's a ring of truth to it. I don't know why, but I often find that the more people spend on their education, the worse it is. There are outliers of course, but it tends to be the rule that if you paid a lot for your education, then you paid too much.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Saturday August 23, 2014 @12:32PM (#47737149) Homepage Journal

    If the entire student body doesn't shut down the school, or at least picket the office and generate some arrests, they should be horribly ashamed.

    In a situation like this there are so many people complicit in intellectual censorship that the only way to deal with it and maintain the school's reputation is to have a special investigator find everybody who signed off on it, everybody who could have objected, and everybody who was complicit and did not specifically and provably object to it, and fire them for cause. Then fire everybody who tries to cover it up and impede the investigation.

    I sure wouldn't send my kid there given the current leadership. Tweaking any one policy will leave the same anti-intellectual stooges in control of the school. There's either a strong pro-intellectual signal sent or the status quo remains.

    So, what's the Board of Trustees' position on this? Typically they don't want to rock any boats and do nothing about such incidents - they love to get wined and dined, collect a stipend, and rubber stamp administrative decisions while occasionally approving a hire of a search firm to find a new President. The old days of active Trustees are nearly extinguished.

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