Use common sense to fix Facebook issues

We figured out a simple solution for the privacy problems popping up with Facebook and MySpace – tell students to stop being stupid. No, seriously, quit being stupid.

Earlier this week, the Stater reported the Kent State athletic department may require its athletes to remove their Facebook profiles. Laing Kennedy, Kent State director of athletics, said in the article several student athletes who posted their contact information on Facebook were inappropriately contacted.

Too bad. None of the members of this editorial board are Fulbright Scholars, but if students didn’t post their contact information on Facebook in the first place, they wouldn’t be contacted.

Facebook allows users to restrict sensitive information like phone numbers, home addresses and class schedules. Students who decide to post that information are bringing these security woes onto themselves.

Facebook has rapidly become a popular networking tool for college students, and preventing all Kent State athletes from using it seems extreme. As time-wasting as the Web site may be, Facebook is practically an essential part of our daily college lives.

“It’s insane,” Facebook spokesperson Chris Hughes said in an e-mail interview. “It’s like banning students from using e-mail or instant messenger. These are essential technologies for the modern college student.”

If Kent State hints at banning Facebook – and at this point they have not done so whatsoever – then the university shouldn’t be surprised if students start rioting. Last fall, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported the University of New Mexico banned students from using Facebook because of security concerns. Sounds like a good reason to transfer.

In similar news last week, the Stater reported Greg Seibert, director of security and compliance, warned students to not post information on illegal activities like underage drinking on their Facebook profiles. According to the article, there have been “scores of complaints from students and parents about inappropriate pictures and online harassment.”

We wonder if anyone has filed a complaint about stupidity. Granted, some of these privacy and security complaints might be severe. But for the most part, students shouldn’t be posting this information on Facebook in the first place.

If these students are befuddled why they got in trouble for underage drinking after they posted a picture of them standing half-naked next to a beer keg, then we question how on earth they were able to make it so far in college without flunking miserably.

With security issues dealing with, we are a bit more sympathetic. Just a few days ago, the other popular social networking site hired Hemanshu Nigam, a former Justice Department prosecutor, to oversee the site’s safety. We like this idea, because many MySpace users are underage children who may not understand the danger of sexual predators.

Facebook, on the other hand, is used primarily by college students. We assume if all of Kent State’s students have enough intelligence to know they have the right in this state to buy a handgun and drink a beer, then we expect you to figure out posting your contact information on the Internet can invite stalkers.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.