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School gangs use MySpace to mark off Web territory

Students post photos of themselves holding weapons and proclaiming gang affiliations on MySpace, worrying administrators of tough schools.

High schools have always struggled to find ways to curb school violence but the advent of MySpace seems to have only widened gang turf wars, reports The Baltimore Sun.

At Annapolis High School in Baltimore, students on MySpace this week revealed photos of students and ex-students holding weapons and proclaiming gang affiliations. School officials have said recent violence is not gang-related, an expert on online behavior said more gangs are turning to the Web.

The fact that students are using MySpace to fight each other has school administrators worried that they may have to step in, even when the conflict becomes a non-campus issue.

"Not only schools, but police will have to get involved," said Jayne Hitchcock, president of Working to Halt Online Abuse. "They will have to take advantage of people posting illegal things. ... They can't ignore it. The Internet is not going away."
A expert in online behavior said gangs are interested in tagging cyberspace just as much as real walls and buildings.
"It used to be that gangs just sprayed to mark their territory, but now they can get a much larger audience if they're on the Internet," said Mike Ribble, an instructor at Kansas State University. "By them provoking others, they're trying to show superiority."