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Senator thinks Facebook 'is dangerous'

By Peter Nowak, CBCNews.ca

In keeping with our most recent blog post - regarding how some politicians seem like deer in the headlights of new technology - comes another doozy. This time it's one of our own, Senator Marjory LeBreton, who is caught saying something most in tech-land would deem rather foolish.

The exchange between Liberal-appointed senator Yoine Goldstein and the Conservative-appointed LeBreton was part of the debate over impending copyright reform and happened last month in the Senate. The transcript, courtesy of Macleans, is as follows:

Hon. Yoine Goldstein: Honourable senators, my question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who spoke a few moments ago about some Canadians whose opinions are based on misinformation.

Is the leader aware that there is a Facebook page where over 40,000 Canadians have expressed their disapproval of this provision? Is the minister suggesting to this chamber and to Canada at large that 40,000 Canadians are misinformed?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I have been asked about Facebook before. I never look at Facebook because I do not understand the technology. I think the concept is dangerous.

To her credit, LeBreton, 68, at least admits to ignorance of the technology, unlike U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, whose clumsy description of the internet as a series of tubes was comical to say the least. And although Goldstein, 74, obviously has a better understanding of Facebook than his Conservative counterpart - or at least isn't scared by the social networking site - the Liberals are by no means progressive when it comes to technology.

While the NDP's "digital spokesman" Charlie Angus has been vocal about his party's support for the growing issue of net neutrality, Liberal industry critic Scott Brison has been silent on the matter.

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300baud

intertubes

The Liberals also do not seem to have a progressive view of copyright. They are still trying to come to terms with this "environment" thing you read so much about, but they're trying hard. Few of them expend any personal effort on maintaining an Internet presence. When will they start acting like the forward-thinker they want us to believe they are?

Posted May 13, 2008 10:12 AM

Claudio

Ontario

Wouldn't it be nice if we lived in a world where politicians were required to possess half a brain? I'm just asking for half a brain here, so stupid things don't come spilling out of ones mouth every time one speaks.

Seriously, everyone is entitled to an opinion but someone in Senator LeBreton's position shouldn't needlessly alarm people who may not be familiar with Facebook or other aspects of the internet. It's true that misuse can ruin a good thing but I believe the benefits here greatly outweigh the "dangers".

Posted May 13, 2008 10:29 AM

Annie

London

I think considering that the internet is now a very valid and widely used soundboard for everyone, including Canadians, it is maybe a little strange that the government has not fully embraced it as just that, a soundboard. It is a place where Canadians can voice their opinions on various awkward political subjects without the fear of feeling anti-Canadian. The Public Service has some great websites available for Canadians, but why shouldn't everyone be involved? Why should the buck stop at the techies- and then our officials are completely technologically illiterate? Maybe our elected representatives are a little too long in the tooth for our current needs, not that Facebook is ever going to make the government's top ten list of most useful sites to Canadians, but you never know.

Posted May 13, 2008 11:14 AM

Dwight

Ottawa

Sen. LeBreton is simply mistaken in this. That's all. I'm sure she has any number of friends, family and colleagues who can settle her fears to our mutual satisfaction.

Posted May 13, 2008 09:50 PM

John

Keswick

Only from the context provided I would have assumed LeBreton meant that relying on the technology for fact gathering is dangerous. Which it is. Many people have multiple facebook accounts and those 40,000 souls the liberal refers to really could be just one spam bot.

Posted May 13, 2008 10:30 PM

AaronM

Vancouver

Yeah, old people suck with technology and shouldn't be in politics. Honestly.

And what does it even matter? Unless you're a psycho and actually believe in trying to censor of the net (impossible), what do they plan to do if 40k Canadians are "misinformed?"
and misinformed about what? Seems the ones misinformed are the members of parliament.

What, incompotent people running a country? Naw...

Posted May 15, 2008 12:37 PM

Barkley Pollock

Ottawa

If the Senator didn't know anything about Facebook did they think "Faces" or "books" were dangerous?
Or was it just the concept of "technology" that the Senator was referring to?

Posted May 15, 2008 04:07 PM

Monkey

Winnipeg

I'm with John on this one, seems that the Senator just needs a lesson on how to properly form a sentence to show what they mean.

Posted May 16, 2008 10:00 AM

James

Ottawa

I dont know what's scarier: LeBreton, who thinks that Facebook is dangerous because they "don't understand the technology", or that Yoine Goldstein thinks that facebook groups are an accurate method to govern a country.

Posted May 23, 2008 03:53 PM

Saskboy

As one of the 40,000 people talked about (who joined Michael Geist's Facebook copyright group) I would suggest that the Senate has a little too much age, and not enough wisdom to go along with that.

Posted May 26, 2008 04:47 PM

Garet

Winnipeg

I don't think a facebook group with 40000 people is impressive, or relevant. I've talked with many people on many anti-whatever groups, and many of them have no idea what they're talking about, or what the aim of the group is. What everyone does, myself included, is joins whatever group our friends reccomend. I will read up on it, and try and discuss things, but I don't think everyone does that. I'm not saying everyone in the group doesn't know why they're in it, but I'd say that many don't know why.

There are groups that believe in that whole unfounded NAU conspiracy theory that have 40000 people as well...

Posted May 27, 2008 11:52 AM

Geof

Garet, there may be some truth to what you say. I suspect it would very hard to quantify and would vary quite a bit from issue to issue. Postings on the group's wall, activity in the discussions, etc. are probably helpful measures of how dedicated the members are. Lobbying of politicians is the most important measure of all.

However, an NAU conspiracy group is not a good comparison because the group will be mostly American. Given the U.S.'s population is 10x ours, 40,000 members is not so impressive. Treat the Fair Copyright group as a 400,000 person group and you have a reasonable comparison.

Posted June 14, 2008 12:21 PM

Garet

Winnipeg

I may be wrong, but I believe the NAU group was called "Canadians against the NAU" or some such nonsense.

Posted June 16, 2008 12:55 PM

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