Concordia unblocks Facebook

Concordia University announced today that it will, effective Monday, unblock access to Facebook from its wired network.

Concordia blocked access to Facebook in September – but intentionally left it open on its wireless network, in residences and in its libraries – out of concerns for “spam, viruses and leaks of confidential information related to use of the social networking site.”

This line of reasoning was criticized – even mocked – by Internet experts like Michael Geist, who argued none of these things are specific to Facebook.

It also led to coverage in the media: CBC, Gazette, McGill Daily and others.

So what changed? Officially, it was reopened because of improved security:

After the recent improvement of certain security checks and procedures at Concordia, including the installation of a new firewall, the university made the decision to officially reinstate Facebook.

Again, it’s unclear how a “new firewall” will protect Concordia against whatever ills it attributed to Facebook. It used phishing as a prime example, and it’s unclear how a firewall will stop those kinds of activities.

But realistically, the growth of Facebook has meant the loss of productivity from its use (my guess for the real reason behind its original blocking) is outweighed by its value as a communications tool – between students and professors, between the university and its alumni, between sports teams and their fans.

Concordia reminds its network users to use best practices for safeguarding personal information and passwords.

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