FacebookAt least, that’s what my favourite Talk Radio station (Radio 702) said during their half hourly news reports throughout today. As a regular facebook user (see my profile here, and challenge me to Rock, Paper, Scissors here, if you have nerves of steel), I was intrigued. Read the story here (not sure how long their archives last, so I have copied it in full below).
Now the story itself is a fairly newsworthy one – especially at this time of year, when final year High School students are writing final exams, and some are trying to find illegal shortcuts to success. BUT, to headline the piece, and add commentary to it, indicating that this is a Facebook problem is ridiculous. And that’s what the news readers did this morning.
What a load of rubbish!! This is such typical media hype. The type that breeds dangerous attitudes in parents, and really does more harm than good.

If the fraudster had used a photo copy machine to make copies of an advert for his illegal exam papers, and posted these papers on lamp posts around Johannesburg, would Radio 702 have said, “There is a problem with Xerox’s”? I really, really doubt it. They would NEVER have even mentioned the brand of the photocopy machine, would they? I mean, what difference does it make.
So, seriously, what difference does it make that this fraud posted on Facebook? It could have been put up at MySpace, or on a blog, or anywhere really. This has got nothing to do with Facebook.
Why does the media insist on fuelling some people’s irrational fears of new technology? It’s not good journalism. It’s not really news. It’s just hype. And incorrect hype at that.
A really good source of news let me down big time today…
Radio 702’s original news story:

Man arrested for Facebook scam
15/10/2007 07:29:08
Police have arrested a man following a scam placed on Facebook.
The 20-year-old who was taken in for questioning in Azaadville, posted a notice on his Facebook profile claiming that he had matric exam papers for sale but when police raided his home, he told them the posting was a fake.
The officers received an anonymous tip-off through Primedia’s Crime Line on 32211.
Officers were forced to explain to the man’s distraught mother why they were there but his mother was quick to defend him.
He claims he only advertised the matric exam papers to see how many hits his page would receive.
Authorities don’t quite share the joke and have confiscated his computer hard drive and cellphone for further investigations.

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