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Internet-Savvy Bloomberg Warns of Dangers of the Web

By Jill Colvin | July 20, 2012 2:28pm

NEW YORK CITY — He has more than 270,000 followers on Twitter, has predicted the future of the city's success lies in new media, and became a billionaire designing new information technology systems. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg has plenty of qualms about the Internet Age.

While Hizzoner typically touts the benefits of tech for everything from helping police clamp down on crime to spurring the city’s economy, he said Friday that he also worries about its negative impact on everything from governing to porn.

“Technology is useful. But you saw at Stuyvesant that disgraceful cheating incident,” he told WOR's John Gambling during his weekly radio show, referring to the case of the student who was recently caught allegedly texting test answers on a citywide exam to dozens of fellow students at the high-pressure school using his cell phone.

“The impact of better communications," he said, "isn’t necessary all good."

Similar dangers extend to pornography, said the mayor, maintaining that school officials could be blamed if students were caught sharing racy photos instead of answers.

"Pornography is a very big problem, because if the student downloads pornography and shows it to others, the city can easily be liable for not managing the classroom and preventing that from happening,” he said, sounding more like a typical 70-year-old than a tech-savvy entrepreneur as he warned about the ease of obtaining porn these days.

“In the olden days, teenagers read Playboy,” he said. Today, “It all on the Internet. It’s on your cable system! You have hard core porno on your cable system!” he yelled.

He also worried about the impact on government, where he agreed with Gambling that officials are often "twittered to death."

“How do you govern when there’s an instant referendum on everything, before you get a chance to build a constituency, before you get a chance to do a pilot?" he asked.

“Most — not all — but many elected official just can't stand the pressure. They say, 'Oh I've got thousands and thousands of emails complaining.""

“You've got to put those things in perspective," he said.

He also questioned the psychological impact of all the various new social networks and opportunities for distraction.

“There are arguments that people are spending so much time doing this it’s hurting their mental processes,” he said.

The comments came after Gambling asked whether the mayor expected to see the city blanketed in wireless Internet any time soon.

“Who knows what the technology will be in another two years or five years," said the mayor. "But the direction it’s going is everybody will have very good communications all the time at a very good price.”