Extreme Facebook Policies Affect Us All – Whether We Like It or Not

We continuously hear the big stats about Facebook use, such as:

  • There are now 800 million users on Facebook.
  • 72 percent of all U.S. Internet users are on Facebook.
  • 740 billion minutes a month are spent on Facebook.
  • The percentage of Facebook users 35 and older is growing rapidly, making up more than 30 percent of the entire Facebook user base.
  • The 18- to 24-year-old segment is now growing the fastest at 74 percent year on year.
  • 48 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds check Facebook as soon as they wake up.
  • More than 5 million Facebook users are younger than 10 – though, technically, those younger than 13 are blocked from Facebook.

All of that said, people of all ages are on Facebook, with young people being the power users. Facebook is embedded in our lives and it is changing the way we work and learn – whether we “opt in” to those changes or not.

Two examples in the news recently demonstrate how the use of Facebook in our private lives is inserting itself in unwelcome ways into our academic and professional lives.

  • A private school in Crown Heights has banned the use of Facebook and fined students if they did not delete their profiles. The head of all-girls Beth Rivkah High School has fined 33 students $100 each for using Facebook, and ordered them to delete their accounts or face expulsion. “The Internet is a good way to ruin marriages and families,” school administrator Rabbi Benzion Stock told the New York Post. “We don’t want them there, period. It’s the wrong place for a Jewish girl to be …. Socializing on Facebook could lead to the wrong things.”
  • During the recent Social Learning Boot Camp, we learned of organizations asking job applicants for their Facebook password during job interviews. The AP reported that when Robert Collins of Baltimore “returned from a leave of absence from his job as a security guard with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services in 2010, he was asked for his Facebook login and password during a reinstatement interview, purportedly so the agency could check for any gang affiliations.” This story has already prompted Congress and states to hold hearings and introduce legislation to change or stop such practices.

Those who grow up on social media – sometimes since they were in utero with their ultrasound photos posted on their new Facebook page – will find policies such as a total ban on Facebook not only arcane, but completely contrary to the natural way they learn and communicate. They will skirt these policies and the technology that attempts to control their access and use.

Workplaces that attempt to employ similar policies, such as demanding social media site passwords or disallowing employees to have a personal Facebook presence, will find themselves not only losing great talent, but also being bashed on public sites for their lack of openness, access and flexibility.

Students and young workers are driving the social media adoption bus. We must pay attention to where it is going, while finding ways to share the road with out-of-date practices, policies and behaviors. Occasionally, we even have to remove the barricades.

How is millennial workers’ use of social media making you rethink your use of social media?