Monday, September 24, 2007

Another Facebook Reality Check

I have a friend (whom I would prefer not to identify) who once asked me (I'm still not quite sure why) if Second Life was where middle-aged men went to get laid. Given the ongoing interest in whether or not Facebook (or something like it) should be considered part of an enterprise software suite, this question, however sarcastic it may sound, should not be ignored; and it appears, at least according to a recent post on The Blotter, that the New York Office of the Attorney General is of a similar opinion:

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said his office is launching a full investigation into the social networking site Facebook and its safeguards against sexual predators.

"My office is concerned that Facebook's promise of a safe Web site is not consistent with its performance in policing its site and responding to complaints," Cuomo said of the investigation.

In recent weeks, AG investigators posing as underage Facebook users were "repeatedly solicited by adult sexual predators" and granted unrestricted access to "a wide range of pornographic images and videos," including such groups as "*For girls that love to share naked pics*" and "Porn Star Trials," according to Cuomo's letter to Facebook.

The review also found that Facebook failed to respond or was slow to respond to complaints filed by investigators posing as the parents of the solicited underage users.

This investigation may end up killing two birds (that are not particularly close to each other) with one stone. From the enterprise software point of view, it reopens the question of whether or not time on Facebook is "wasted," while, at the same time, it also addresses the hypothesis that I claim HBO is investigating in Tell Me You Love Me, which is that sex is all we talk about and that we do so in extremely impoverished ways. The one way in which these "birds" may be closer than we think is in how they reveal our communication practices, whether for business or pleasure, and the danger they expose that all of those conversations are depressingly hollow!

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