URL filtering, especially by “universities”, is bad. I am fortunate enough to be at an institution where the system administrators are more dogmatic on no-site-bans than the students. Yes, preventing others from making academic use of computers is baaad. Restricting access to a site or a particular new toy can be a short-term solution to abuse – but in the long run, it’s pretty poor form for institutes of education to be playing this game. There are other, less restrictive alternatives available. We’ve seen this before with email, the dreaded Hotmail, Flash games, other social networking sites, and so on. Bebo may be garish, and its Irish pages populated with nonsense and babble, but it has a purpose, and even if it doesn’t, the principle of allowing students to access an unbowdlerised Web is worth defending.
A lot of schools and colleges around Ireland like NUIG have blocked Bebo the social networking site. I’ve seen a few methods used like blocking the Bebo IP, blocking anything with ‘bebo’, ‘proxy’ or ‘unblock bebo’ in the the URL. I set up a proxy on this site that obfuscates the URL that seems to work.