Facebook ban spurs picket at Ateneo de Davao

Students and some faculty members picketed the Ateneo de Davao University last week in protest of the restrictions imposed on them in going online on social networking site Facebook within campus.

Students complained that they were required to pay more than P1,300 as “information technology fee" each semester.

But the administration of Ateneo de Davao clarified that Facebook is “not totally banned" in their university, but rather the restrictions prohibit students from going to the popular site from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. only.

School officials said that the sheer number of people who go on Facebook on campus heavily overburdens the university’s internet service bandwidth, such that it negatively impacts on the university’s other online services.

GMA News' newscast "Saksi" on Monday reported on the picket.

This page requires a higher version browser
“Most of our books are not really physically in the library. It’s online, they [students] can read these books while they are inside the campus," Assistant to the President of Ateneo de Davao University Jeremy Eliab told GMA News.

“Now, if Facebook is eating the bandwidth, it’s impossible to download the whole book," he explained.

“We want our personnel to focus more on – not on social networking – but on their necessary work, basically educational work," he added.

Eliab also said the ban was also a disciplinary measure to prohibit students from accessing Facebook during their classes.

Faculty statements

After the official announcement of the ban, an open letter was issued stating: “The College Faculty Union of Ateneo de Davao University (CFU) vehemently protests the blocking of social networking sites such as Facebook and Friendster, including other sites. The blocking is initiated by the Technical Service Office (TSO) of the university, as the internet site claims to be [sic]. This infringes on the freedom of information and of expression which requires thorough discussion beforehand to determine what constitutes a violation or not. The CFU will file grievance as initial and LEGAL response directed to the head of TSO."

On his blog, Ateneo de Davao professor Dominique Cimafranca noted that the picketers held up placards with Facebook’s blue-and-white “f" logo and the statement “Stop Facebook Ban."

“They do know what an ‘F’ means academically, right?" he wrote wryly that he had quipped to his fellow faculty member.

Also last week, another university in Mindanao, state-run University of Southern Mindanao prohibited school personnel from going on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites during office hours. — Marlon Anthony Tonson/VS, GMA News