Thursday, August 09, 2007

Will Journalists Have Their Facebook Profiles Revoked?

Some quick thoughts on the breaking news flap about Caroline Giuliani in my last post. CNN recently interviewed the subject of the controversy, Lucy Morrow Caldwell, and in it, it was reported that Facebook canceled her account for the following reason:

"Users agree...they will not reproduce other user profiles without permission from the question and Facebook. Permission was not granted in this case."

Facebook, of course, has become a frequent appearance in the news today. Every time an under-30 person dies tragically, Facebook content written by family, friends and the deceased is reproduced in the article. Judging by this statement, are journalists now subject to new scrutiny for using Facebook to report? Are they subject to losing access to this resource because they simply reproduce Facebook content -- be it favorite activities, vital information, wall comments or images?

I don't think this question has been raised yet, but I think it is valid. Most times this crops up with tragedy, so Facebook rarely cracks down (why bother?). But what if they did? Is reproducing such content in the news a legal fine line, or is Facebook just enforcing an in-house rule for the sake of doing so?

I don't know (lawyers out there, feel free to chime in). But it makes me wonder, as more and more people join sites like this, how journalists can use such resources.


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