Why do some IT pros dislike Facebook?

Recently on Spiceworks, I posted an announcement about a new Facebook group to discuss IT Auditing, Compliance, Security, and Forensics. I did not expect some of the negative responses I received. Some IT pros don’t like Facebook, though, I should clarify.

Many of the responses could be grouped into two categories. The first group said that Facebook was for personal things and not well suited for business or technical discussion. The second group felt that because Facebook has a well documented history of security and privacy problems, using it to host a group on security topics might be like having former ENRON executives give lectures on business ethics.

Both groups make a fair point. Facebook is most commonly for personal things that you share among friends and other people close to you in some way. Facebook does have a history of security problems and in principal, I see their point. I don’t entirely agree or disagree with these two positions.

How you use Facebook is a personal matter. I know of many professionals (including myself) that happily incorporate personal friends and business relationships via Facebook. There’s so much value in Facebook at so many different levels, I and millions of others are willing to accept the responsibilities that come with having an account in return for what it has to offer. Some in the post did state that it is a matter of personal preference and what you are comfortable with. If you would like to control interaction between personal, professional and other friends on Facebook, see this helpful post on how to do that.

Security is an entirely other matter. To not use Facebook for discussions could be a huge mistake because of the size of the audience. If you want to participate and benefit from a group, joining one on Facebook opens up the possibility of millions of potential contributors. There are risks and having the ability to moderate and establish guidelines is important. Here’s a great article on IT and Facebook responsibilities. Note that in group settings on Facebook, you do not need to be friends with someone to be part of a group. While there are many examples of groups gone bad because of a few, again, I would argue it’s an acceptable risk to see where it goes and hope that people will contribute constructively and be decent to one another.

From IT and non-IT perspectives, tell me if this is going to crash and burn or if you think it has an opportunity to thrive? Do you have any opinions on why not to start or join a group on Facebook? Is it time to let the individual decide if they can be responsible enough to have a Facebook account and can personal and professional worlds intermingle successfully?