Posted on October 8, 2011


So, after much searching, I’ve managed to link this blog to Facebook.  The problem, of course, is that Facebook is dumb.  The way I set it up, all of my posts were added to my Notes at one time.  So if I keep showing up in people’s news feed, I apologize; I was just trying to link the two sites so that future posts update to my status.  At least, that’s how it used to work.  I’d complain more about how Facebook provides a great product, but terrible tech/customer support, but there’s one important distinction that renders any arguments null: I’m not a Facebook customer.  I use their product, but I don’t pay for it.  I have no bargaining power, practically no rights (beyond Constitutional ones), where Facebook is concerned.  They can choose to ignore my concerns (or anyone else) as they choose.  It sucks for us, because every time they change something, they either don’t announce it, or they reset personal settings (which has gotten people into trouble over the years; though this story doesn’t directly involve privacy settings); then again, just because a user is ignorant of how the system works, doesn’t mean it’s Facebook’s responsibility.

I don’t know, really: the whole social networking scene is difficult to adjudicate.  Certainly there’s something to be said about stupid people doing stupid things with Facebook and Twitter.  (Check out the Twitter link; seriously, it’s a great example of internet stupidity.)  When I was in school, a classmate posted a party video after a weekend of hard work and little sleep.  It’s all fine and good, except he clearly identifies himself, his friends, the school they go to, and the ROTC program they’re in, and they show no indication of having a designated driver, or even exercising a little restraint.  So his actions put himself and his friends at risk in their jobs.  But that’s actually a mild example of stupidity on the ‘net.  There are people posting credit cards, plans for wild parties, and other crazy behavior.

So where does the problem lie?  With the parents, first and foremost, and that’s always my answer, but there’s more to it than that.  Mostly people should exercise some restraint and common sense.  Don’t post personal information; don’t identify yourself or others, especially when doing something stupid or illegal; don’t post comments about people you work with, or for.  At the same time, though, do the networking hosts have responsibility at all?  I want to say they do, but I can’t figure out how they would exercise it.  Any form of restrictions on posting content would be seen as a violation of free speech, or expression, or whatever.  Granted, any site can limit its content however it chooses, because the site owners are responsible for what gets posted, and I believe that even if they include clauses to a different effect.  While it may not be practical to expect them to approve everything that gets submitted, ultimately they provide the means by which the information is disseminated.  They have the ability to remove offensive or damaging material.

Still, I think the efforts involved demand that all responsibility lie in the hands of the individual.  So to all those ‘net users out there, don’t be stupid.