Does Facebook Lead To Defamation?

Orthodox rabbi Gil Student blogs:

In this week’s The Jewish Press, R. Mordechai Weiss writes [on page 25]:

Then came Facebook and Twitter, which took the Internet to a new level of impropriety. Things are written on Facebook that end up as lashon ha’ra and rechilut — "Whisper Down the Lane"-type slander and insult… I firmly believe that being on Facebook leads to unavoidable temptation of defamation.

I’ve been on Facebook for almost two years and I have no idea what he is talking about. It’s not that I’m particularly careful to avoid these things and am able to overcome my temptation. I simply have never come across anything of the sort. I’ve been on Twitter for less time (almost a year) and I haven’t seen anything like that on Twitter either.

MICHAEL FELDSTEIN COMMENTS: "I cannot speak for Rabbi Weiss, but I think he might be referring to the fact that many teenagers are very careless in posting comments and photos on their own Facebook home page or on other pages that they may think are private, but then get broadcast to a larger group and become embarrassing."

ABE FROMAN COMMENTS: "Technology like FB is morally neutral. It’s the people who use it that do good or evil."

ANONYMOUS COMMENTS: "I suspect that it’s not specifically informed by anything in particular, but just a desire to portray the internet as bad and getting worse — sort of the way some people reacted when blogging became popular."

BARUCH PELTA: "Methinks blog comments have much more nastiness than Facebook, probably because Facebook accounts aren’t anonymous."

SHLOMO: "If Facebook needs to be banned because of lashon hara and rechilut, then what about old fashioned face to face conversations?"

MOSHE: "How about phones. Phones have definitely contributed to increased lashon harah. No question about it."

Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss writes in The Jewish Press: In my estimation instant communication represents the worst type of interaction. While e-mails today are used to get one’s message out quickly and, if used properly, can alert school parents of an impending program, announcement or emergency, it often removes the level of accountability from the people writing them. Often they are angry at a situation — whether personal or school related — and they make accusations based on their anger…

When I receive such e-mails I often phone the person and arrange a face-to-face meeting that, more times than not, ends with apologies on having sent the e-mail. I often tell my teachers that except for informational items, e-mails should never be used.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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