Irony alert: Facebook Catch-22

It’s a small thing, but it made me laugh out loud when I read it: the government of Ontario (the province I live in, for those of you outside Canada) has been confronted by a grassroots protest against legislation for young drivers. More than 110,000 people have signed up for a Facebook group that was set up in opposition to the proposed law, which would (among other things) restrict drivers who have a G1 or intermediate licence from carrying more than one other passenger under the age of 21. The law emerged at least in part because of a horrible accident in which a car full of twenty-somethings heading home from a party wound up going off the road and killing three of the four passengers.

A terrible accident, of course. But here’s the ironic part: near the end of my colleague Murray Campbell’s story about the Ontario government’s response, and how premier Dalton McGuinty (yes, that’s his real name) wants to “engage in a dialogue” with some of the protesters who have joined the Facebook group, Murray mentions that this desire is complicated by the fact that Ontario government employees can’t access Facebook at work. Why? Because the province has rules that prevent them from doing so, as a result of concerns about privacy, people wasting time checking their friends’ Facebook status every five minutes, and so on.

Here’s a word of advice for Mr. McGuinty and his government: If you really want to “engage in a dialogue” with those who are critical of you, it would help if you didn’t ban the tools that they are using to lobby you. Just a helpful tip — you can thank me later.

14 thoughts on “Irony alert: Facebook Catch-22

  1. It won't come as a shock to you that, by law, I believe he must respond in both official languages as well. I do a lot of events for Governments across Canada and in those presentations I always say that the rules have to change. Well, they're going to have to change faster if the Government really does want to be a part of this. They will soon have to move away from their “one voice in both official languages” policy.

  2. Hi Matthew,

    I don't use Facebook even though I am on every other Web 2.0 application. Ordinarily, I would agree with you (since I do like your thoughts and writing). But I disagree here. Facebook is primarily used as a social networking (friend) application. The government can engage in dialogue using non-Facebook Web 2.0 tools (Twitter, blogs, YouTube, etc.). I frankly would not take the Government of Ontario engaging with me using FB as a platform. If, of course, I were on Facebook!

    • Thanks for the comment, Raul — and I appreciate that not everyone uses or wants to engage with the Premier through Facebook. But at least several hundred thousand people seem to want to (at least in some way), and I think that makes it a pretty good venue.

  3. I have an account on Facebook but it is not a measure that I am one of those people who sign up just for an alarm. I made this thing because Facebook have different offers that you will enjoy.

  4. Or you know, Mr. McGuinty could stop his crusade to turn Ontario into the ultimate nanny state. I'm well past the age that this new law would effect and don't even drive anymore but I still think it's ridiculous.

  5. “(yes, that's his real name)” I don't get it.

    The majority of the traffic the Internet carries is either a copyright infringement, unsolicited commercial or fraudulent communication, or pornography. There are other uses for the Internet (like there are other uses for Facebook besides socializing) but those other uses are the aberrant cases, so the gov't should just ban the Internet during working hours. Right, Raul?

    I've heard that water coolers encourage a similar social effect. Never actually seen an office water cooler, so I'm not sure. Maybe they're already on top of this one.

  6. “(yes, that's his real name)” I don't get it.

    The majority of the traffic the Internet carries is either a copyright infringement, unsolicited commercial or fraudulent communication, or pornography. There are other uses for the Internet (like there are other uses for Facebook besides socializ

  7. “(yes, that's his real name)” I don't get it.

    The majority of the traffic the Internet carries is either a copyright infringement, unsolicited commercial or fraudulent communication, or pornography. There are other uses for the Internet (like there are other uses for Facebook besides socializ

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