Sunday, June 03, 2007

Peer pressured into Facebook

At first I thought this article was written by a kindred spirit but alas – et tu Davin? - the writer is sucked in, though he retains his suspicions.

"Friends were appalled, yes appalled, that I wasn't yet on Facebook. It was as if, with every day of brave resistance, I was becoming fainter to them, a less complete acquaintance, remembered only in dusty photos (printed, not digital) and an increasingly unused number in their phone's address book. For fear of becoming entirely transparent to them I relented, and went through the online hazing that is Facebook registration." writes Davin O'Dwyer in the Irish times (subscription only I'm afraid).

He also says:
"And despite the explosion of these sites, a research paper last year concluded that social isolation is on the rise in the US - the average American has fewer friends now than 20 years ago. How many people are being duped into thinking their social circle is as vibrant as ever, just because they can keep up with the latest antics of their acquaintances with ease?"

And: "China will ban Facebook and Bebo, not to restrict political dissent, but to stay economically competitive.

On the other hand, Facebook is a surveillance state's dream come true.

Intelligence agencies spend vast resources trying to spy on their citizens, only for huge numbers of people to relinquish voluntarily their own privacy online. Is it any wonder civil rights campaigners are finding it difficult to arouse broad concern over diminishing rights to privacy? These days, it seems, privacy is for when you're going to the toilet; everything else is in the public sphere."

This article is from the Guardian last month on "the Dark Side of Facebook".

He talks about the site being used by political parties in the UK - all very well though he expresses concern that "The British National party has recently developed a number of presences on the system..." though amusingly enough, as I said previously you can end up as "friends" with people you don't even like on Facebook, one user points out an even greater irony to a BNP chap: "Let me add this up. You guys hate Jews yet you're on a Jew's networking site?"

In general according to Professor Michael Geist this political use of Facebook is no bad thing: "Is there really no benefit to have government policy makers access and participate in the hundreds of groups discussing Ontario health care issues? Would it be so bad for elected officials to actually engage with their constituents in a social network environment?

The attempts to block Facebook or punish users for stating their opinions fails to appreciate that social network sites are simply the internet generation's equivalent of the town hall, the school cafeteria, or the workplace water cooler - the place where people come together to exchange both ideas and idle gossip."

And lastly on the Beeb this article by Rory Cellan-Jones offers advice on how to make friends on networking sites for the over-40s. He now has a Facebook-group named after him - Befriend Rory Cellan Jones.


So everyone's writing about it and on the Hanoi-campus everyone's still talking about it but Teddy de Burca is holding out!

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