Smart Planet: Unintended Consequences of Facebook


By John Dodge

In the wake of high school student Phoebe Prince’s suicide, I have been thinking about the destructive side of Facebook, instant messaging, texting/cell phones, Twitter and other 7×24 social mediums. Prince was a 9th grader in South Hadley, Mass. who took her life after months of tormenting by classmates whose arrests this week have been big news.

What struck me is that there was no escape for Phoebe. Once, you could get harassed in school and take refuge at home. No more.

Who is at fault?

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7 thoughts on “Smart Planet: Unintended Consequences of Facebook

  1. The whole idea is rather rhetorical. Two men get into brawl. One man breaks a chair and uses the leg of that chair as a lethal weapon. Did the builder of the chair intend that it be used as a lethal weapon? Well, I could be wrong…but I don’t think so. Anyone could use anything at anytime for nefarious purposes. The only safeguard would be rubber chairs (thunk!!!). Even then…someone would find a way to use it as a weapon.

  2. The question is wheither or not the creators of Facebook, or any other social network for that matter, intended to have their site abused by anyone and that answer is “NO!” No more than the creators of guns intended to have their creations used for school shootings, armed robbery, murder or any other crime. It is the responsibility of parents and other adults to teach the lessons of what is right and wrong; to set and carry out consequences for breaking the rules. Instead, when the rules are broken—they make excuses and look for ways to avoid the consequences.

  3. Anything that results in a teens untimely death should be considered unintended. What a horrible place she must of been in. My prayers go out to all the families involved.

  4. All technology is a double edged sword. There is no shortage of people who will prey on others for entertainment. Technology has produced a high level of freedom with little or no responsibility and or consequences for those that abuse the system. Unfortunately, now we are going to have another government run group using this kind of behavior as a reason to “regulate” these types of sites. Mark is right, we all need to spend more time away from the computer, get outside and cultivate relationships with other people face to face.

  5. It is not a question “evidence.” The simple fact is that the founders of Facebook intended it to be a means of social communication and a way to build relationships. They did not intend for it to be abused as a means of harassment and intimidation. That some people did use the system in an abusive manner is therefore correctly identified as an “unintended consequence.”

  6. To J.B: Really? While your may be literally correct that John Dodge does not have documented proof of it, do you really think the Mark Zukerberg intended Facebook to be used as a bullying tool with the end goal of teenage suicide?

    If you do, you need to step away from your computer, get some sun light and build lasting relationships with live humans.

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