Social networking site, Facebook, has been blocked from all desktop computers at Concordia University.
The block, which was put in effect Sept. 1, has some students and professors outraged and confused.
“I was surprised to learn about the ban – and yes, I learned about it while trying to log onto Facebook in my office,” said assistant professor, Lisa Lynch.
“Most universities have either embraced or at least grudgingly accepted Facebook . . . In fact, the University of Maryland recently established an emergency alert system using Facebook as means of communicating [with] their students. Concordia’s ban on Facebook thus seems out of touch with general trends in universities as a whole.”
According to Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota, security concerns were the driving force behind the move. “There were real concerns about having certain elements of Facebook corrupt our IT system. Apparently it was deemed insecure and a decision was made to protect the system.”
Technical director for journalism, Elias Makos disagrees, however. For him, concerns about network cost are much more likely factors.
“The official reason [for blocking Facebook] is complete bullshit. It makes no sense,” he said. “Quite frankly the reason they probably banned it is because it is hogging up bandwidth.”
“I think it sucks. I think it’s stupid . . . anyone with half a brain can easily circumvent it and get to Facebook anyway. All of these websites are out there, just to go around filters. And there’s even other ways to get around filters. Filters do not work. They never have,” he said. “Kids are smarter than this [ . . . ] if an 11-year-old can get around a filter, what do you think a university student can do?”
However other social networking sites such as MySpace.com and Bebo.com, which pose greater threat levels in terms of “spam, viruses and leaks of confidential information,” are still allowed access.
Still, at least one Concordia student agrees with the university’s policy.
“This ban will not affect me. Actually, I take that back: I’m overjoyed,” said political science student Roxane Hudon.
“If most Concordia students want to spend their time on Facebook, checking which one of their friends is ‘really tired’ or ‘working’ or ‘had a crazy time last night,’ then maybe they should just stay home and watch repeats of Gossip Girl instead, it might teach them more about life.”
For many students, however, Facebook isn’t just used as a social network; increasingly, it is becoming an important device for journalists looking to identify particular groups or individuals who are reporting on niche topics like music.
Sarah Deshaies, a first-year student, says that Facebook has become a standard tool for information gathering. “You can even see when you watch TV and someone has died and the coverage shows pictures from Facebook or the messages from friends and family on their wall.”