Lester Holt looks at 'The Facebook Obsession' on CNBC
The host for the special is
For those that aren't familiar with it, Facebook.com allows people to connect as "friends" with actual friends, relatives, professional contacts and even people they don't know at all. There are also fan pages devoted to actors, TV shows, political figures, and a wide variety of goods and services, which people can "like."
Users can share photos, links and videos, use various applications to do everything from figure out what city they should live in to which cartoon character they most resemble, send greeting cards, publicize events and causes, and indicate their marital status and what sorts of relationships they are seeking. Some of those photos and comments could come back to haunt users, whether it's something they posted or that their "friends" posted.
"People have criticized Facebook for privacy issues," Holt says, "but the heart of it is our willingness to share.
"I smile at myself, thinking, 'God, five or six years ago, as a country, we were debating the Patriot Act,
Facebook, whose founder
What politician could resist something like that? The Obama campaign used Facebook effectively -- and successfully -- during the 2008 presidential contest, and the
No doubt other politicians will follow Palin's lead on Facebook. All of this presents fresh challenges for journalists.
"It affects the media," says Holt, "in that we become wise to it. We report what they say on the Facebook page, and then we have to find our own ways to fill in some of the blanks.
"When you're Tweeting or Facebooking, it can be a one-way conversation, unchallenged. It just raises the bar for us, in terms that we've got to continue to find ways to hold people's feet to the fire and challenge them on some level."
As to whether he's come to any conclusions about Facebook, Holt says, "It's here; it's real; it's not a flash in the pan. ... It is truly redefining the way that we communicate."