New research into social networking sites claims to have uncovered sharp online class divisions.
A preliminary report from a six-month research project by the School of Information Sciences at UC Berkeley carried out by PhD student Danah Boyd found the class divide between popular social networking sites MySpace and Facebook.
In part these were systemic, as until recently Facebook was restricted to college students, but there is also evidence of class having an effect.
"The goodie two-shoes, jocks, athletes or other 'good' kids are now going to Facebook. These kids tend to come from families who emphasise education and going to college. They are primarily white, but not exclusively," she said.
"MySpace is still home for Latino/Hispanic teens, immigrant teens, 'burnouts', 'alternative kids', 'art fags', 'punks', 'emos', 'goths', 'gangstas', 'queer kids' and other kids who didn't play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm.
"MySpace has most of the kids who are socially ostracised at school because they are geeks, freaks or queers."
Boyd further noted that this has also had an effect in the way the authorities are dealing with the sites.
She suggested that the reason the US military banned the use of MySpace and not Facebook is because officers are much more likely to use Facebook, while enlisted men are on MySpace.
"The military ban appears to replicate the class divisions that exist throughout the military," she said.
"I cannot help but wonder if the reason for this goes beyond the purported concerns that those in the military are leaking information or spending too much time online or soaking up too much bandwidth with their MySpace usage."
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