Thursday, 31 January 2008

Banned: MySpace deletes world's largest atheist group

Dear reader, our blog has moved to a new address.

Do come on over (and change your bookmarks accordingly):

Social networking site MySpace, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, has sparked controversy by deleting the world's largest online atheist group following complaints from people who find atheism "offensive".

"Atheist and Agnostic Group" boasted 35,000 members until it was deleted on 1 January for the third time in as many years. It was founded in 2004 by Bryan Pesta, an assistant professor at Cleveland University who established it as a social network "specifically for godless people."

The group was closed down for the first time two years ago after an organised campaign by Christians persuaded MySpace to delete it. It was eventually restored and MySpace promised to protect it. This time, despite a petition from 500 users and repeated emails to customer services, MySpace seems reluctant to reverse its actions.

Pesta is understandably furious, particularly given the treatment Christian groups have received in the past: “When the largest Christian group was hacked, MySpace’s Founder, Tom Anderson, personally restored the group, and promised to protect it from future deletions.”

Last April the atheist group won the Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy's Excellence in Humanist Communication Award and the chaplain, Greg Epstein, has expressed his displeasure at MySpace's actions: “It is an outrage if Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and the world’s largest social networking site tolerate discrimination against atheists and agnostics – and if this situation goes unresolved I’ll have little choice but to believe they do.”

The decision has caused much debate on the Richard Dawkins website, where users have been discussing what action should be taken against MySpace. Suggestions include:
  • Is there someone we can contact to complain?
  • Should Professor Dawkins continue to support and promote these sites in the light of what has happened ??
  • I'll be deleting my account at the end of the day when I get home.
  • My account is now closed! My personal protest!
  • But isn't Myspace just for ridiculous wankers anyway?
  • Create multiple accounts and tag all of the as Atheist
  • Fuck 'em I've no use for these social network sites anyway
Pulling all this together, we thought we'd run an opinion poll to see what people think should be done about this. Get your vote in at the top right of this page:

Also, check out Bill Thompson's web exclusive article "Facebook knows I'm an atheist", where he wonders what the consequences might be of letting social networking sites know about your unbelief.


Anonymous said...

So far the poll indicates that boycotting Murdock products and lambasting My Space with atheist messages are the most popular responses. That's good because I wanted to vote for both of those choices.

OzAtheist said...

There are a few other things that could be done:
write letters to Murdoch owned newspapers.
contact MySpace and let them know what you think.

dewraith said...

You could also jam up your profile with all the Atheist things you can find. I have a Scarlet A and an Atheist meetup badge that are huge. I've also added Dawkins' book to my list of favorites (first in the list, of course) and posted a bulletin urging others to do the same. A boycott won't do anything. We need to put as much Atheist stuff on their site as we can and make as many groups as we need so they'll get tired of deleting them.

dewraith said...

Oops. I meant the boycott won't do anything because we are only speeding up our own deletion. We need to push for the opposite and fight back by flooding them and letting them know we won't go away.

Anonymous said...

Can they be sued on freedom of, er, from religion grounds?
It's obviously discrimination.

Tom Rees said...

There's plenty of other networking sites out there (facebook, bebo). If myspace doesn't want our business then complain publicly and take your business elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

you know what probably happened? The person who made the profile probably got hacked into and was deleted along with the group. I'm sure they'll get it back up. I'm sure that if they had a "hate" for atheism they would have deleted it a long time ago and would be deleting other groups as well. This article is absurd. Oh and this coming from a true humanitarian..I looked at the comment poll of what people would do... the suggestions on the were so non-humanitarian. Someone needs to think twice.

Bryan said...

As a fan of the greatest sport in the world, I can't boycott FOX until they no longer carry the NFL, however I have a brilliant suggestion that I am personally incapable of implimenting. Someone should create a social networking site exclusively for Athiests (although banning the religious nutters would reduce the entertainment factor for us).

Anonymous said...


atheisthotline said...

there is a social networking site for atheists. it is atheistunitedotcom

I personally will delete mine from myspace.

Anonymous said...

Boycotting myspace isn't going to do ANYTHING -- who will know except those who already agree - the atheist converted. All social networks suck because people are the same everywhere. But I enjoy MySpace for my own particular reasons and there are good ideological reasons for being there - for me and for godless groups. I think the best response is to just register/start a new atheist group page on MySpace. If they're not admitting they have an anti-godless bias then take them up on it. If they do then make up your mind about where you want to be. Why should we run away? It's just a microcosm of the social world in general, of "the world" in general. Would you run from that or stand your ground?

sorry, to go on -- you don't even know me. I'm just surprised and disappointed that the most popular choice would be to bail. Thanks for letting me state my humble (godless) opinion. And thank heaven :) for fellow non-believers like you. Good luck with the group and all.

Skeptic_Al said...

I support dewraith's proposal - I also think we should ALL make the scarlet "A" our main profile pic. I did, and just to rile them further, I uploaded it with the filename "Atheist_you_f***s" , minus the asterisks, of course). Oh, and the filename isn't viewable by the general public so they can't use obscenity as a reason for pulling it.

Lord said...

Random Thoughts and Comments for the Religious Right.

* By Randy L. Kendrick

* No one is stopping you from teaching your kids about Jesus, creationism, or
any other religious view. We just don't want you indoctrinating OUR kids. If
you want organized prayer in school, opt for a religious school. The public
schools belong to, and are paid for, by all of us. Kids CAN pray anytime,
anywhere. Just don't involve a captive audience of others.

No, the phrase "Separation of Church & State" does NOT appear in the U.S.
Constitution. Neither do the phrases "Separation of Powers", “Double
Jeopardy”, or "Checks & Balances". The phrases are all a short way of
describing concepts which ARE part of the Constitution. This is NOT a
"Christian Nation". Never has been. God is not mentioned in the
Constitution. Rather, this is a government with powers given to "We the
people". The United States is not a theocracy. We are a secular republic.

Try to understand that religious neutrality is not equivalent to
anti-Christian. Not giving you free reign to use public institutions to
proselytize is not persecution.

If you don't like a TV show or movie, don't watch it. There are over 200
channels of programming to choose from. Don't try to lower the content of
every medium to the level of a child. Understand that there are things
suitable for adults that are not suitable for children. Take responsibility
for what your child sees and hears without trying to censor what other
adults can read, see or watch. Change the channel, go to a different web
site, or turn the darn thing off.

Harry Potter is not drawing kids into "witchcraft". It is fiction that is
getting kids excited about reading again. It is no more demonic than "The
Wizard of Oz", "Alice in Wonderland", "Mary Poppins" or any other books with
witches or magic loved by children over the years. Some kids seem to be
better at discerning fiction from reality than the adults around them.

Despite the comments of some celebrities and TV evangelists, atheists are
not responsible for the horrors of September 11, 2001. It was people with a
very strong belief in the supernatural and God who carried out the acts of
terror. If God wanted to "bless America", wouldn't early on September 11
have been a good time to start?

Be careful of censoring ideas. It may seem fine when you are in the
majority, but for your rights to be protected, the rights of minorities must
be respected. What happens if your views become a minority view? Would you
want to be censored by the majority?

The national motto, "In God We Trust", was not established by the founding
fathers. It became official during the McCarthy "Red Scare" era of the
1950s. The original motto was "E Pluribus Unum". Likewise for the "Pledge of
Allegiance", and it's 1950's addition of the words "under God". That
mismatched insertion broke up a single thought, that of "one nation,
indivisible". Remember that neither a motto nor a pledge have anything to do
with government policy.

Learn what the word "theory" means in a scientific context before showing
your ignorance by saying "evolution is just a theory". This does not mean an
unproven hypothesis. I hope you don't disbelieve the theory that microbes
can cause disease.

Don't be disingenuous by denigrating science while enjoying its fruits.
Science is self correcting. It discards disproven hypotheses and lets the
facts lead to whatever conclusions are observed; whereas religious "science"
starts with presupposed outcomes and tries to make the facts fit the desired

© 2002, Randy L. Kendrick. All rights reserved.

Anonymous said...

Dear friends,
there seems to be a little confusion about boycott: While it is necessary to boycott everything Murdoch YOU NEED TO PAY FOR (is there a list?); it is much more effective to open everything free on Murdoch´s expenses and/or his advertising and fill it with atheist information, science, selfdetermination political opinions, etc!
(I do hope there are people out there with much more time to spend than I have)
A. Nonyma

Robert Reed III said...

Can we sue them for discrimination?

mike.d said...

Uh, kids? It's right here:

And it's pretty lackluster if I may say so myself. I know 13 year olds with more interesting looking myspace pages. But hey. At least the site is still going! You can call off the witch hunt.

-- and, remember to beware what you read, it's just the internet. It's not gospel (pun intended).

Anonymous said...

well, to hell with facebook!!! At the end, its one of Murdocks businesses and he can do whatever he wants with them........... then again, not even powerful news master is going to stop us from sharing info, comments, news, or whatever.... atheist are here and we are here to stay!!! the more people think, the less people stay stuck in a church...

I'll say: lets start an atheist facebook of our own... we don't need them.... I am cluess when it comes to building website, so please, the people that can, go ahead... I'll join.

Best wishes,

Luis (guatemala)

David Mabus said...

the *MODEL* of mental health:

"Look at the ANGLE OF THE KEY....see that, see that...."

what an idiot this Randi is.....a REAL CRITICAL THINKER.....

for all the victims of Randi's monstrous idea.......


to see how we stopped James Randi's fraudulent MILLION DOLLAR PARANORMAL challenge.....

watch carefully the consequences of Randi's *idea*…..

For over 40 years James Randi Zwigert (is this even a REAL NAME?) has had total control over who and how the testing was conducted, yet despite all this he has terminated the challenge.

The ONLY REASON why the challenge was stopped is because he lost and refused to pay.

Apparently, Randi likes to break the rules when it serves him:

"14. This prize will continue to be offered until it is awarded. Upon the death of James Randi, the administration of the prize will pass into other hands, and it is intended that it continue in force. "

Great's over......


PS: Almost Forgot: Love the IRONY of the *BULLSHIT* sign over Randi's ugly head....

Anonymous said...

"lambasting My Space with atheist messages are the most popular responses."

And you wonder why they were banned...