MySpace and Facebook: Pros and Cons


Richard Geiger introduces Susan Herzog and Aaron Schmidt to an overflow crowd

MySpace and Facebook are extremely popular topics, so it was no surprise that an overflow crowd gathered to hear about them from two experts on the topic: Aaron Schmidt, Director, North Plains Public Library, and a fellow blogger, and Susan Herzog, Assistant Professor,  Eastern Connecticut State LibraryAaron’s presentation, WhoseSpace, is available on his blog.

The most popular sites on web have a social nature, and social networking is all about stories taken to the web.  They enable two-way communication and inject humanness into the web.  One of the problems Aaron focused on is how to get permission from library administrators to offer access to MySpace.  Important points to make are that social networking is an intellectual freedom issue, and there is nothing inherently wrong with MySpace.  A major concern is whether MySpace is safe or not.  Young people are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of posting too much personal information online, and there are a number of YouTube videos illustrating this (go to YouTube and search on MySpace).

In her discussion of Facebook, Susan Herzog confirmed Aaron’s observation about young people’s awareness of the dangers of posting personal information on the Internet.  Facebook is growing rapidly, and some libraries are opening Facebook pages.  It has become a recognized part of many students’ culture.  Despite their awareness of the dangers, many students do not recognize that archives exist and can be viewed, even after pages are removed.  And those pages are being used by campus administrators and law enforcement authorities to trace illegal and inappropriate behavior.  Some students have been expelled after posting inappropriate Facebook pages, and others have been denied entrance to graduate school or have been rejected for jobs.  Other students have been victims of stalkers who used their Facebook pages to find them.  Herzog stressed that it is important to educate students on the dangers of posting personal information in the public domain.

I was impressed that these enormously popular social networking platforms have so many and far reaching unintended consequences.  Perhaps we in the information profession have always been aware of the need to guard one’s privacy, but these services have brought the issue to the fore.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and IL2007 Blog Coordinator

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