It does seem rather handy that so many people have an online identity now. Especially if you're a journalist. When you're trying to find someone — or information on them — those MySpace pages sure are useful. Take for instance, the MySpace page of Ashley Alexandra Dupre. On it, she mentions several things about herself. For instance: "I am all about my music, and my music is all about me. It flows from what I've been through, what I've seen and how I feel. I live in New York and am on top of the world." Well, as most people know now, Ms. Dupre has a good deal more to her, namely, her involvement in the ugly scandal that took down the House of Spitzer. So here's what's interesting to me about it — The New York Times article on Ms. Dupre seems to approach its subject through the prism of her MySpace profile — without a whole lot of skepticism. Granted, the Times did speak directly to her, and to her mother — it's not as if the story is reported entirely from the online identity Ms. Dupre wishes to show — but the tone is surprisingly naive. For instance,
Her MySpace biography says she started singing professionally after a musician she was living with heard her singing the Aretha Franklin hit "Respect" in the shower and burst into the bathroom with his lead guitarist. She says she toured and recorded with them, then moved to Manhattan in 2004 and spent the first two years getting to know the music scene, networking in clubs and connecting with the industry."
Kinda hard to tell what came from her, and what came from the page. Of course, a lot of this is the pot calling the kettle black (I'm the pot), because during the Virginia Tech shootings, we got so much information from Facebook memorials to the kids who were shot. It seemed to me at the time, a good use of social networks — for a good cause, if you will. But in the wake of the false Bilawal Bhutto Zardari page, the Megan Meier tragedy — it kind of makes you feel a little icky about using Facebook or MySpace to report a story. Pity the old media types — the web moves a lot faster then they do. And if anyone wants information about me, you should know that half the TV shows I mention on my Facebook page I barely watch anymore. Fact check it, y''all.