By Josh Visser
There are many reasons to love and loath the social-networking website Facebook.com. Regardless, its popularity cannot be understated. Studies have suggested that as many as 85% of American college students have a Facebook profile, and Canadians students can’t be far behind.
Facebook profiles say a lot about a person, so much so that businesses are now looking to Facebook profiles to gather information on potential employees. Using Facebook, one can gather how ‘popular’ a person is, who their friends are, their religious and political views, and view photos and comments. But is this private or public information?
Muhammad Ali Jabbar is the Ryerson Students’ Union president and as such, is our main representative at Ryerson. And he seems to be a fine one at that, rarely have I found student politicians to be as friendly and honest as Jabbar. However, his Facebook profile was brought to the attention of The Eyeopener newsroom by someone who clearly thought that Jabbar’s profile merited public scrutiny.
In a photo album which was added by Jabbar on Nov. 9, there are numerous overtly-political photos and cartoons regarding the conflict between Palestine and Israel which he has taken from the “Free Palestine!” campaign issues website. Some pictures such as a cartoon featuring an Israeli and Palestinian ambulance drivers arguing in the Gaza Strip over the number of dead they have to move are darkly funny and poignant. Other photos show the sad reality of war. But many other photos feature Palestinian children obviously being used for anti-Israeli photo-ops. The most disturbing photo features a Palestinian child buried alive with the tagline next to it, “3.2 Billion US tax dollars per year to Israel.”
This is not meant to be a debate of the Middle East conflict. Everyone is entitled to their own view and has the right to make valid comments on the very old and ugly conflict. But the question is, as RSU president, should Jabbar be making his private contenious views so publically available?
The Muslim person who brought this to my attention made a valid point, that many Ryerson students, particularly those of Jewish or Israeli origin might find these photos offensive.
And as one Jewish friend pointed out, it seems to be a politically foolish move to take a stand on such a controversial issue and open up old wounds on campus.
“I can’t trust the guy to carry my voice in student politics anymore,” I was told by my friend.
I find it worrisome that our president could be so careless with his online profile as to allow the potential for an ugly debate to arise on Ryerson’s campus.
As Rye Prof. Ilkka Kokkarinen found out earlier this year, your online profile can come back to haunt your offline life. It can be easy to think that your personal, private online musings don’t affect anyone. But they do.
The internet is not a private playground but a public forum on who you are and what you represent.