Friday, February 01, 2008

My Religious Space

I am skeptical of all publicity campaigns, even those largely populated by skeptics.

I used to have a MySpace page. In fact I still do, but I have not updated it for many months. Over the last few days there has been a bit of a stir in the online world about the apparent deletion of that site's "Atheist and Agnostic Group", largely due to complaints from people who find atheism offensive. The complainers also presumably find other "religions" offensive.

I was not a member of the group. In fact I am not a member of any atheist or agnostic group, unless you count the entire human race as a group. Anyway, everybody is somewhat atheist or agnostic really, even the most deluded religious devotee does not believe in the sacred revelations of most of the gods that have been acclaimed by humanity.

As a peripheral point, I don't think this apparent censorship is an excuse to move to Facebook or Orkut or whatever happens to be the next social networking site of the day. The reason that Myspace is losing share is because of its ugly, noisy, cluttered bug-ridden interface, not the fact that it is owned by the Murdoch Media Machine. It is true that News Corp follows a broadly conservative agenda, but there is still a fair degree of diverse opinion there, at least in its UK operations.

But their main agenda is profit. So I find it very difficult to comprehend how the owners of a commercial networking site can deliberately choose to antagonise tens of thousands of members. I know they are outnumbered by the religious majority, but it is still a substantial chunk of annoyed revenue. A group of concerned christians can easily control a local community, keeping jobs and opportunities only to the chosen believers, but it is much more difficult to control a global web.

In this case, the group organiser's account was hacked and the group disabled, but the delays in reinstatement may possibly be due to incompetence and lethargy rather than malice. Surely no social networking executive is going to be so bigoted or so stupid as to deliberately engineer this mess?

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