Facebook faces off with Ontario gov't
Last Updated: Thursday, May 3, 2007 | 1:16 PM ET
Ontario government employees won't be among the 21 million worldwide users of the popular social networking website Facebook — at least while they're at work.
Premier Dalton McGuinty said Thursday he doesn't see how Facebook — an internet phenomenon that allows members to display their profile, photographs, interests and comments to fellow users and reconnect with long-lost acquaintances — adds value to a workplace environment.
McGuinty was commenting a day after the province barred government staff from accessing the website from their workplace terminals.
When workers tried to log on to their accounts Wednesday, they were greeted with "access denied" messages on their screens in the same way as pornography and gambling sites are blocked on provincial computers.
The popular video-sharing site YouTube is also restricted.
Facebook is "puzzled" by the government's decision to restrict access to the site, said Chris Kelly, the company's vice-president and chief privacy officer.
"We are in contact with provincial officials and hope the situation will be resolved quickly," Kelly told CBC News Thursday in a statement.
McGuinty said it's important for the government to review websites that are accessible through its computers from time to time.
"The folks who work in government are made up of the same DNA as the folks who work in every other sector," he said.
Bad news for Facebook addicts
Several Ontario MPPs have Facebook pages, including David Caplan, Rosario Marchese and Brad Duguid. Federal politicians with Facebook profiles include Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff.
Several Facebook members have started groups on the site extolling and lamenting its addictive properties, with numerous users claiming to check the site more than 20 times an hour.
As of Thursday, the group "Stop McGuinty's Crusade Against Facebook" had 78 members, almost double the number of members as the "Dalton McGuinty is Handsome Club" page.
Facebook is also banned in most federal departments in Ottawa.
Why is this news? There are lots of companies that restrict access to sites like FaceBook, MySpace and YouTube. My company is one of them. See how someone can get into trouble using something as innocuous as Blogger? Things could only go much worse with FaceBook access during the day!