Facing Facebook

Today’s Globe and Mail had a story No more Facebook for city employees (Jeff Gray, May 10, 2007) about how (Toronto) city employees will not be able to use Facebook at work despite the fact that “there is no evidence of rampant abuse”. Toronto seems to be following the province of Ontario which is reported to have banned Facebook as it “does not add value to a workplace environment and civil servants should not be wasting office time visiting the site” according to Premier Dalton McGuinty. Do we have evidence that it is not useful to civil servants? Could there be uses of social networking? At McMaster a number of librarians have Facebook accounts that they are using to be more accessible to students on the princple that they should be where their audience is. (Coming soon a WOW librarian.)

Issues of time wasting hide what to my mind is the more serious issue. Two of my students did a multimedia project on
Facing Facebook that deals with privacy issues. There is a Flash opinion piece that Alex pointed me to that similarly asks, Does what happens in the Facebook stay in the Facebook? These deal with the large-scale corporate privacy issues. My previous post, Facebook Ethics looks at the local ethical issues.

We need to avoid being spooked by a new use of technology just because it takes off. (Toronto is apparently the largest community on Facebook.) But, we also have to be vigilant.