Facebook Imposing its Values

October 8, 2010 Opinion

It used to be that people could only join Facebook if they were in college. It was a strictly collegiate resource and was created for the sole purpose of communication. However, today Facebook is used not just for connecting people but also for publicity, business, stalking and of course common interest groups. It seems, in theory, that these groups are a positive addition to the Facebook phenomenon, allowing people with similar interests to come together and discuss in an organized forum. However, since Facebook does draw from a wide array of people, sometimes some not-so-tasteful groups are represented on the site.

Facebook’s latest scandal deals with a group that calls themselves NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association, a.k.a. the epitome of creepy). Essentially what this group aims to do is support the legalization of sexual relationships between male adults and male minors. On top of this, pictures of young boys were posted on the site. The pictures were not of the children doing anything inappropriate, however the underlying meaning of the photos posted leaves me (and surely many others) with an unsettling feeling. Facebook found out about this group and quickly deleted it from the site.

While I agree that this particular interest group is sickening and vulgar, the bottom line is that these derranged men technically have not done anything illegal. Supporting something that is illegal is not the same as actually committing the crime. Therefore, the question becomes: does Facebook truly have the right to delete the group and therefore silence the group members’ voices?

In a perfect world an issue like this would be black and white. The group is inappropriate; therefore, it should not have a place in a public forum. How ever, the group did not violate the terms of use on Facebook so it does not make sense that they should lose their Facebook privilege. Furthermore, if Facebook deletes this group, what is going to stop the site from deleting other groups of which they disapprove? What is too much? On top of that, who are these Facebook officials to judge what is socially acceptable to have online? What offends me may not off end someone else. It seems to me that unless someone is openly and publically doing something illegal or something that explicitly violates the terms of use, they delete any group. If they wish to have this power they need to completely re-write their terms of use and alert all users to the new policy changes. Again, I feel this group is distasteful and disturbing. However, as long as there is no proof of illegal activity, it is not just for Facebook to become subjective about which groups get to stay and which groups get deleted from Facebook history.

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