I awoke this morning to a front-page story in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald - "No classes for no-class acts". Four to six students at a local high school have been suspended and are under police investigation for remarks they posted on a Facebook page about one of their teachers. The remarks were inappropriate and insensitive, and personally I agree with the actions taken - users of social networking sites should still maintain some level of decency and common sense.
The Halifax Regional School Board (HRSB) has blocked Facebook, MySpace, and MSN Messenger (and probably many other social networking sites) from all school computers due to the "distractions" that they cause and that school computers are only for school use. They have also been blocked to attempt to reduce cyber-bullying, where students gang up on each other online, a noble intent.
As posted by Randommind, the Ontario provincial government has banned Facebook, and now along with it, so has the city of Toronto, and Parliament Hill in Ottawa, both in an attempt to stop workers from "wasting" their time at work.
I see two issues here, but that may not be the case. In the case of the HRSB banning social networking sites, they are dealing with a constituency of primarily school-age minors. But does banning sites send the right message or should these students be educated in their use, so that when they become adult workers they won't "waste" time? For all of the parents out there - what age is the right age to allow access to social networking sites? Are they something only adults should have free and unfettered access to? Do they need parental controls or some similar way to limit access and functionality?
I teach at a community college where the learners are adult, both in age and in the way they are treated. What rules apply for Facebook et al? Free access or banning? Does the college need a policy for proper use? Is that even feasible or realistic? How do I react if a learner posts something insulting or inappropriate about me?
The second issue is the continuing banning of Facebook by public agencies whose main function is dealing with the public. Wouldn't it make more sense to use Facebook and other social networking tools to increase access? Hmmm...
Lots of question, and not lots of answers. The saga continues...