Every year around this time, you can be sure of two types of stories: the first will be about how much productivity is lost
thanks to March Madness (NCAA basketball tournament, for those who don't know) and the second is about how the customary March Madness pools are probably illegal gambling. This year, it's been turned up a notch, thanks to reports like this one in PC World claiming that the FBI is looking into the brackets available on Facebook
thanks to a CBS Sportsline app. From reading the article, you'd think that the FBI is spending valuable resources trying to track down your office pool or the pool among your college buddies. Except... the article doesn't quote anyone at the FBI or even indicate that it tried to get the FBI to comment on the matter. It merely points to a Chicago Tribune article that says Facebook may face "scrutiny,"
but also provides no proof. That one at least has an FBI quote, but it's clearly in response to a question from the reporter over whether or not such pools violate the law -- not about whether the FBI is actually investigating Facebook.
The PC World report also points to a blog post saying that Facebook is coming under FBI scrutiny
, but again provides no proof, other than some unsourced conjecture about the FBI "loitering" around Facebook -- and another link. This one goes to a report at a site called Online Casino Reports
, which also gets a quote from the FBI -- but again, it appears to be in response to a question about the legality of betting pools, but not claiming that there's any sort of ongoing investigation. While there's a chance it's happening, there seems to be a bunch of folks reporting on this with no actual evidence that the FBI is looking at this. The only quote from the FBI came from the Chicago Tribune and was clearly in response to a question about the legality of betting on March Madness, not about any investigation into Facebook. So, chances are, the FBI isn't going to burst in on Mark Zuckerberg for putting a couple bucks on North Carolina to win it all -- or on you for picking Cornell (go Big Red) to beat Stanford this Thursday in the opening round, but if you want to be safe, maybe don't bet any money on it in the first place.