It is with increasing alarm that I view the type of activities that go on in Facebook. Anyone can form a group, entertain false ideas and notions, allude to illegal activity, or defame others. From a Social Networking site for University students it has evolved into a wide-ranging forum where teenager are raging at those. In typical teenage angst, the rant and vent and disseminate information that they do not understand.
When a young person dies, or disappears, a site is created and these young people share their memories and feelings (such as the Rengel, Boudreau, and Ponte murders). This is healthy. Kids share photos and memories. Families can benefit from these sites and receive the love and the wonderful stories of what their son or daughter meant to others. Some of the photos are less than flattering and some downright revealing and the site administrators ought to be reminded of how much skin they should show of a friend.
What is not healthy on the websites are the false accusations, the gossip, the libelous actions, and the innuendos that permeate some of the sites. Those in middle school seem to be the worst at this. In righteous indignation they name those who are accused of crimes, or are taken in for questioning. They do not understand or respect the legal system in which we are presumed innocent until proven guilty. In small communities everyone knows the names of those involved and rumours spread regarding what is happening. The conversations can turn vitriolic and they recommend violent answers to the murder and demand violent retribution for those who have unfairly passed away.
I believe that these sites must not be allowed to be created: using another person’s name seems wrong. I would be horrified with some of the photos I have seen, as well as the foul language used by those posting and reaming out the killers in violent threats. Our society deems free speech a good thing, but until young adults become adults and understand respect for others they are abusing the privilege.
Teachers should be warned about publishing personal information. Employers lurk and some recent exposés of Federal Election 2008 candidates reveal that sometimes too much can be revealed. What has been a danger for University professors is even more dangerous for high school and elementary teachers. The Toronto Star writes of 'emotional boundaries', but professional boundaries are the ones that must be clearly identified and delineated. What is on the 'net can be archived and come back to bite you. With cameras in cell phones, and YouTube videos to prove it, there is nothing that is sacred nor quiet.
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