Like Myspace before it, Facebook is rapidly changing as people start using it in different ways. Of course, Myspace died a slow and painful death after Facebook took over, and now is only used by bands. However, Facebook is starting to alienate its casual users, those who make up most of its base. I'm seeing it used more and more as an advertising tool instead of a social media tool. This is not itself a bad thing, but as Facebook makes strange and useless changes to appeal to some non-entity user, casual users are drifting away.
On the other hand, it's been an amazing tool for people trapped in oppressive nations like China and North Korea, assuming they can get through the firewalls without being detected. It's allowed many stories of abuse to get through where otherwise they could not have, and allowed relatives and friends to reconnect.
I agree with the posts above. In my experience, it has definitely been a boon. It has allowed me to stay in touch with people, to reestablish contact with old friends, and even to make a few new friends. The argument that it keeps people from engaging in real relationships is, in my opinion, unpersuasive. I think it has the potential to enhance relationships in many ways. I resisted Facebook for many years, and now I wish I had not done so.
I think overall it's a boon. Like others here, I have enjoyed reconnecting with people from my past. It's so easy for people to quickly share a picture or a thought, the stuff that everyday life is made of, and that you would otherwise miss.
Like every other technological marvel ever invented, the ultimate value of facebook lies in the hands of its users. There are a few people who use it in unpleasant ways, and that is just part of fb's technology growing pains. Because all things computerized change so quickly now, it takes a while for conventions and manners to develop and catch up and for people to catch on to what the rules are.
Privacy is certainly an issue worth being concerned about. I am very circumspect about what I post, and sometimes I will pull someone aside (in the real world or virtually by private message) and explain why I think they need to be more careful with what they put out there. It's so easy to post something and virtually impossible to take it back once it's on line; all anyone has to do is hit "save page as" and they've got what you posted captured forever. But protecting your reputation is something that everyone should be aware of whether they are posting on line or just talking while waiting in line in the grocery store.
Facebook definitely began as a boon, with many wonderful intentions. It really helped me to reconnect with people from my past, stay in touch with current friends and relatives, and keep up with what is going on in the art community. However, some of the recent changes have me questioning if Facebook is worth the hassle, and I think I may be deleting my account soon. The lack of privacy is becoming a huge issue. They keep making everything you post and every move you make more and more accesible to everyone. Continuing to change your privacy settings will soon be futile as they continue to create features that just leave everything in the open. And now I hear that they will allow you to see who has defriended you.
I consider it a positive thing when used the way it was meant to be used: as a means of convenient social connection (and, arguably, as an opportunity for shy college students to get to know members of the opposite sex in a more socially protected environment). As such, I think Facebook has been one of the greatest technological inventions of our lifetime. The only part of Facebook that seems to be a "bane" would be the users who abuse it, make it more important than it was originally intended, or cease to function in the real world as a result of its existence.
Overall, Facebook is a boon. Of course, it has its bad aspects, but it is a very good thing for society nonetheless.
The great thing about Facebook is that it allows people to keep in touch with one another easily. Of course, before Facebook there was email and telephones and letters, but Facebook is in many ways superior to all of those. Facebook allows people to share details about their lives that they never would have thought to share. They would not email or call a friend to tell them these things because they seem so trivial. But yet these details allow us to form better understandings of what our friends are like. Facebook gives us a way to keep with friends even if they are not our closest friends. It gives us a way to get to know them better. By doing so, it helps us feel more connected and gives us a broader social network. Therefore, it is a boon.