My stake president told us to get off of Facebook and MySpace this Sunday. No explanation. He mentioned chat rooms in passing, but came down hard on these networking sites. So, I did. I cancelled my Facebook account. I'm willing to trust him here - I haven't had any problems with it, but if it's a big enough deal to announce in stake conference, then I'll take his word for it.
This topic has come up lately in conversation, and in another board I frequent - a friend's stake president did the same thing. Before you go any further, watch this clip from The Daily Show
on the subject. Many kudos to Optimistic for bringing it to my attention.
There seems to be a couple of things that people are worried about:
1. Sexual predators - a problem, yes, but nothing unique to online social networks. If this is the reasoning, then message boards and blogs probably need to go, too.
2. Kids forming "virtual" friendships instead of real friendships - a reasonable worry, I guess. A market researcher did a study and found that, to a great degree, the time spent garnering "virtual friends" is time that would otherwise be spent alone watching TV. That's kind of how I feel about it, but I understand the worry.
Austin said he quit his MySpace account a while ago because it went too far - weird people wanting to be his "friend," people masquerading as something they're not, bots trying to generate traffic to porn sites. I'm not sure what's wrong with Facebook, though... it seems to be a bit more on the tame side. I like Facebook because it has allowed me to stay in touch with friends from high school, that I haven't had any other contact with.
Has anybody else gotten this counsel from Priesthood leaders? Did you close your account? I closed mine, but I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has thoughts on the topic.