Yesterday, the Office of Information Systems removed all access to Facebook from Maryland General Assembly computers.
Allegedly, this ban on Facebook (and a similar social networking site, MySpace) occurred because of “a significant increase in viruses and malware” and that the only solution was to remove access to the sites from MGA computers.
Unfortunately, many legislators (including the Maryland House Republican Caucus) use Facebook for professional purposes, updating constituents, discussing issues, and communicating with staff. Indeed, over forty legislators have their own Facebook…many of whom update daily. (For instance, Del. Nic Kipke used his Facebook to ask constituents what they felt about the death penalty.)
The outrage is bipartisan, as Democrats have asserted their opposition to the ban as well.
Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt had tough words for the Office of Information Systems, accusing them of incorrectly stating viruses emanate from Facebook, and arguing that it would be far easier to simply insure computer users use updated versions of Internet Explorer.