Think of the children: the MySpace moral panic of '05

Think of the children: the MySpace moral panic of ‘05

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Edited by JPat Brown

Cortland, New York, is a small city where nothing much happens. The newspaper is about ten pages long, and sometimes whole pages are devoted to not only their high school’s honor roll, but that of the next town over as well.

But ten years ago, controversy struck, one with all the workings of a Lifetime teen drama: A number of kids were suspended from extracurricular activities for appearing in MySpace photos holding red cups. Parents and students rallied together and stood up against the administration, striking a blow for online privacy and varsity football.

One day at MuckRock, while chatting about about solo cups and party busts, this far-back incident was dislodged from my brain. I was curious to see if there was any evidence of the incident in public records, and with a little digging, this turned up:

There’s a lot to unpack here: Policing of social media. Students’ right to privacy outside of school. Suspension as punishment. What’s Kim Komando up to these days? Just how does one get into the Kudos Korner?

But mostly, it’s a hilarious artifact of a brief and otherwise forgotten power struggle, now immortalized thanks to public records laws - and with your help, we can dig up plenty more where this came from.

Did your school experience some, in hindsight, painfully dated moral panic, such as rainbow parties or gel bracelets? Let us know at,and we’ll help you track down what embarrassing remnants we can find.

Image via Wikimedia Commons