One small college’s bold experiment draws praise, criticism, and even a jab on late-night TV.
A central Pennsylvania technological college with fewer students than many Facebook users have friends is blacking out social media for a week. The bold experiment at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology — which has drawn praise, criticism and even a jab on late-night TV — means students and staff can’t access Facebook, Twitter or a host of other ubiquitous social networks while on campus.
Provost Eric Darr said the exercise that began Monday is not a punishment for the school’s 800 students, nor a precursor to a ban, but a way for people to think critically about the prevalence of social media.
The blackout comes on the heels of a report that Web users in the U.S. spend more time socializing on Facebook than searching with Google, according to data released last week from researchers at comScore Inc.
Still, Darr said he can’t believe the controversy generated in the Twitterverse, blogosphere and academia, with some accusing the school of inflicting “a terrible thing and an infringement upon people’s rights.”
“By and large, the students are supportive of the whole exercise and don’t get so worked up over it,” Darr said.
On campus, attempts to log in to MySpace or LinkedIn return the message: “This domain is blocked.” E-mail, texting and other Web surfing is still allowed, but not instant-messaging.