Sunday, March 8, 2009

Facebook continues its global takeover

Can anything stop Facebook? A recent issue of Fortune points out that Facebook is taking over our lives, "but is it a real business?" I don't know the answer to the question, but I can certainly agree with the statement.

I have yet to succumb to the sweet siren call of Facebook, but I imagine I won't be able to resist much longer. Both my wife and daughter are devotees and countless colleagues have invited me to become their friends. (I certainly hope they are still my friends, even if it is only in the real world and not online.)

A couple of weeks ago, Facebook was in the news for changing its terms of agreement. Naturally, privacy was the issue. Then, last week, my wife (the one on Facebook) sent me a link about some cops in Rockland County, NY, who were suspended for posting what can be called, at best, locker room humor about their town supervisor and President Obama.

So, the question is: Does posting offensive thoughts on Facebook deserve the protection of free speech, as suggested by one of the suspended cops as well as his chief. Uh, yes, as long as it's not inciting hatred or violence.

As far as I know, Facebook hasn't taken the postings down - I assume they would have to cross a certain threshold of indecency to do so - and I don't think they should. Then, again, I'm no legal expert.

But I do know a few things about communications and I feel that just about every time someone opens his or her mouth, literally or figuratively, there is something to be learned. In the case of the cops with bad attitudes, I think we can learn that - in addition to being juvenile and in all likelihood unfit to serve their community - when left to their own devices, some people have no clue how to communicate effectively and can sometimes end up humiliating themselves.

How do you avoid that? Think about what you want to say and what you want to accomplish by saying it.

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