It’s in the Constitution

5 05 2013

This is a work in progress for one of my uni assignments. I have to pick an issue that has been discussed throughout the session and write 1500 word about my opinion and stance on the issue. I then have to find 8-10 photos using the creative commons website and write captions for them. The issue I have chosen to look at is whether or not Facebook needs a constitution. There will be references, but this is still just a work in progress, remember that while reading

There are laws surrounding drinking before a certain age that you can be punished for if found to be flaunting the rules. And even though you are entitled to vote at elections, you’re not allowed to vote until you are 18. Why then, aren’t there rules and regulations surrounding the enforcement of age restrictions on Facebook.

Given the current climate and extent of Facebook usage around the world (if it were a nation, it would be the third biggest in the world with 1 billion users), if it were to be shut down and launched again, there is an easy way of restricting minors from having accounts.

To enrol to vote, we have to go to the local post office and hand over sufficient proof of age. Could it not be as simple as this to ‘enrol’ for Facebook membership? You provide proof of age, show an interest in becoming a ‘member’ of Facebook and your application of interest is sent off to be assessed.

The government wouldn’t want just anyone having an account, so to minimise risk of abusive behaviour taking place, assessment of those interested people should help this side of the issue. Once the government is happy that the applicant is suitable for ‘membership’, they would have to agree to a ‘constitution’ of Facebook. This could act like a contract for a job. “If you are caught posting obscene pictures ….. your account will be terminated immediately”.

This course of action could also see the number of altercations with vicious intent drop. I personally have had it happen on more than one occasion where messages exchanged have resulted in people turning their backs on me because of a ‘dispute’. This wasn’t a pleasant feeling as I didn’t initiate either of them.

The other reason that this was annoying was the fact that I could’ve lost my job over my involvement in one. Even though neither of us dragged work into the issue, because of my partaking, I was able to be held accountable. This resulted in me abandoning Facebook altogether. I’m almost certain that I’m not the only one who’d have been unaware of the circumstances if such a thing were to happen to them.

As we know, there have been judges disciplined due to ‘friending’ jurors of the same trial, and prison guards stood down for the same with in-mates. Maybe if they had been forced to read a ‘constitution’ before hand, maybe they would have had second thoughts before sending or accepting the request.

This would benefit society in numerous ways. By the time most people turn 18, they are generally in their final year of schooling or have already graduated. So if the government deems that they are mature enough to vote, then surely they are mature enough to become a ‘member’ of an online community.

One of the potential benefits of enforcing the age at which people can ‘enrol’ for Facebook is common courtesy will (hopefully) increase. While not all teenagers have an ‘attitude’ problem, it is becoming increasingly apparent. Facebook is a place where egos can be developed and crushed without much effort. By restricting access to social media, such as Facebook, maybe another level or degree of respect will be learnt by the minority that ruin the image for everyone.

With new government enforcements stipulating that students aren’t allowed to leave school at the end of year 10 except for certain conditions, most people that use Facebook are still in school, so have no real need to have a Facebook account as they will almost certainly see their friends on a regular basis.

Once people turn 18 and are ready to leave school, they will have a legitimate reason to have an account. Work quickly takes over life and tertiary study is not universities for everyone, so Facebook is an ideal way to keep in touch.

While some people might complain at this, there are alternatives. For example, instead of ‘messaging’ a person like Facebook allows, why not email them? You can still send images and links via email and you can also message more than one person at a time.

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