How serious should Facebook be?

For me Facebook is really a bit of froth that I use to give me a bit of variety in my day.  As a I work mostly on my own it gives me an opportunity to have a break once in a while and see what my facebook ‘friends’ say or what links have put up.  As it can be seen from the movie Social Network, the purpose of Facebook was really a way for people to socialise on line.

Of course as we now know the purpose has expanded.  Politicians, social groups etc. use Facebook to spread their ideas.  For instance I am a ‘friend’ to Julia Gillard, and Andrew Bartlett.  I ‘like’ the ALP and Greens page, and of course anything to do with football.

However should work be placed in a different category?  Should Facebook be serious as well?  I m asking that question because the University where I work has a number of pages and one concerns the Library (which is my bit).  I received this in my staff news this morning:

The University Library’s Facebook and Twitter pages now have over 750 followers between them. We have been posting on average about three times a week and we welcome wider library input. If you would like something promoted via our social media accounts, please contact ……… Some ideas include:

* Library tips
* Did you know (about this service/scheme)
* Library FAQ of the week (and the answer)
* A photograph of the new books in the library

We have been marketing the pages through various avenues but it would be great if you can also contribute to these efforts either through your contacts with students and staff or via your publications such as LibGuides. The links are:


Immediately I loved this idea. As someone that has been trying to publicise the library as wide as possible I can see the possibilities here. On the other hand it shifts my concept of ‘Facebook’ from a diversion and relatively light hearted activity to something serious.

I was ‘told’ this quite clearly when I didn’t see this boundary when on the page there was a notice to page ‘likers’ to nominate a library staff member, service or team for an excellence award. I wrote back that I wanted to be nominated for the ‘grumpy old librarian that doesn’t allow you to eat in the library or use the phone award’. OK not exactly champagne comedy but in the context of Facebook comments I thought perfectly acceptable. The maintainer of the page responded tersely “Library staff can be nominated for an awards for service excellence or making an outstanding contribution.” . Well, not the usual Facebook repartee there.

So it seems that Facebook has become like real life compartmentalised in light hearted social interaction, important causes such as in politics or social justice, hobbies like football and now the workplace. And as real life better not blur the boundaries.

1 Comment

Filed under Musings

One response to “How serious should Facebook be?

  1. Alex

    A more serious issue (to me, anyway) is when the Uni-as-employer requires you to actually use facebook or twitter (or any other service or software that may have questionable practices or terms and conditions). As someone who chooses not to have a Facebook account, primarily because I don’t like their terms and conditions, I just don’t see why information should be hidden away, or have there be privileged information that I cannot access. That, to me, is the important distinction. If someone wants to use Facebook for “Serious” purposes, good on them. If an employee is disadvantaged because they don’t want to use it, that isn’t so good.

    Just because something like Facebook seems convenient doesn’t mean that we should be forced to join regardless of the privacy implications.

    In particular, it is just another thing normalising the idea that people don’t have any privacy expectations any more and all is fair game. It worries me.

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