The director of the Convergence Culture Consortium, Henry Jenkins, has been publishing regularly on issues surrounding social networking site MySpace and the current plans in Congress that would call for a ban of the site in schools and public libraries.
But, while the government seeks on the one hand to eliminate the exposure of children to the site, another branch is trying to do everything it can to exploit MySpace in its recruitment of high schoolers to a branch of the United States service: the Marine Corps.
While the Army received a significant amount of attention for its America's Army game, the Marines are attempting to recruit by being everyone's friend on MySpace. According to a story from the Associated Press on Tuesday, the Marine Corps is the first branch of the U.S. Armed Forces to launch into the social networking site. The MySpace page for the Marines had already made 12,000 friends at the time the article was published.
The site includes an option to click called "contact a recruiter," which directs you to enter contact information so a Marines recruiter can set up a face-to-face meeting with them. In the article, Marines officials emphasized that they would never recruit someone directly through the site but would still have that face-to-face discussion. At that time, 430 people had already sent their information for recruiters.
The article also included comments from a group called the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, who (not surprisingly) attacked the recruitment methods for its creepy implications.
Now, it looks like the Marine Corps may have led the march into MySpace, as the army promises not to be far behind.
It seems that the military has been an early adaptor when it comes to using new technologies in recent years, and the Marine Corps move seems to have already been successful, no matter how you feel about the positive or negative implications of such a move.
And some other people's MySpace pages may be getting significant attention in the process. When I went to MySpace and searched for the Marines, I found a variety of other Marines pages, many of them set up by individual marines. In the process of the current attention directed to the marines site, these people have probably had increased traffic as well.
Will the Marines also draw other businesses and institutions toward using the site as a recruiting tool? We already have companies marketing, bands expanding their reach, religions proselytizing, and defniitely pornographic sites increasing their numbers through their spam invites. But the attention the Marines has received significant attention based on this decision, and that visibility may convince many other groups to follow suit.
What does the corporitization of MySpace mean for regular users? Increased opportunities or the selling out of the site, in the users' eyes? Guess we'll wait and see.
Thanks to Margaret Weigel for bringing my attention to this.