In the world of social networking for young adults, MySpace is one of the leaders in the field. Sharing pictures, comments, videos, and music is incredibly easy. MySpace profiles can be personalized in hundreds of different ways, letting people express their individuality freely, if sometimes chaotically. Indeed, looking at some pages is enough to bring on an instant migraine.
With all of the fun to be had at the click of a mouse, it’s easy to forget the warning: don’t post anything on the Internet that you wouldn’t want your mother (or, for that matter, your spouse, boss, or local law enforcement agents) to see. During the past week alone, MySpace use has contributed to the investigation of an animal control officer in Virginia,
the arrest of a 14-year-old girl for posting nude photos of herself,
and a stabbing at a Texas middle school.
Clearly, people post much on MySpace that, in retrospect, they may wish they had kept to themselves. Often, this information is viewable not only by those on one’s “friend list” but by the entire world, should we all care to look. Such is the case with the MySpace research on this blog. Everything to be published here was accessible to the general public at the time it was found. We have screen shots of all pages. Nothing was obtained by "hacking." Much of this information may still be public.
In order to make some sense out of the hundreds of comments received, we had to determine which (if any) had been left by Bristol and/or Levi. A curious aspect of MySpace is that comments posted are not necessarily deleted, even if the person who wrote the comments has cancelled his or her MySpace account. Many times, these comments remain visible for months, and, though the user name and picture may be gone, the anonymous comment will still link back to a page that contains the user’s MySpace ID number. Since there were no comments that clearly identified either Bristol or Levi right off the bat, the assumption was that we were dealing with deleted accounts.
In Bristol’s case, we received a tip on two comments that were made by a deleted account holder, but which linked back to the same MySpace user ID number:
Oct 12, 2006
surb what up?? haha yeah i know i know, you were right, but six days!!! waahoo, then ill be driving your lovley ass everywhere :)
love ya sruuuub - yo busump
June 19, 2007 (portion of comment)
ha ha yeah he changed my password on this to b-ris p. and I always think of him for sure.
In the first comment, the writer appears to be referencing her upcoming 16th birthday on October 18, 2006, which corresponds with Bristol’s 16th birthday. The second comment speaks for itself. There were other comments received as well that corroborate this particular account as belonging to Bristol.
At around the same time, we also received a tip on a comment left by a “levi” on the MySpace of a young man in the Wasilla area. It was a fairly routine comment, but it linked back not to a deleted account, but to a MySpace profile page that could only be described as “well-scrubbed”: no graphics, the barest of personal details, just three friends (two of which led to deleted accounts), and two comments (one of which was spam).
Although the personal details matched what we know about Levi (e.g., this “levi” is from Wasilla, his Zodiac sign matches Levi Johnston’s birthdate, and he states “I don’t want kids”), there was no easy way to tell if this was the Levi we were interested in. His is a popular name in Alaska, and after the news of Bristol’s pregnancy was released in September, fake Levi pages popped up on MySpace.
Then we realized that the only worthwhile comment remaining on this Levi’s page…came from the user ID number already identified as belonging to Bristol.
More on that to come in the next post.
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