11/19/2010 02:09 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

This Week's HuffPost Family Dinner Download: Willow Palin's Facebook Slurs Hit the Headlines

In her new book, The Family Dinner, Laurie David talks about the importance of families making a ritual of sitting down to dinner together, and how family dinners offer a great opportunity for meaningful discussions about the day's news. "Dinner," she says, "is as much about digestible conversation as it is about delicious food."

We couldn't agree more. So HuffPost has joined with Laurie to launch a new feature we're calling HuffPost Family Dinner Downloads. Every Friday afternoon, just in time for dinner, our editors highlight one of the most compelling news stories of the week -- stories that will spark a lively discussion among the whole family.

The family can gather around the laptop, smartphone, or iPad -- or just print out the post and pass it around the table. Each Dinner Download will end with a question or two that we hope will get everyone thinking and sharing their thoughts, feelings, and opinions.

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This week, Willow Palin, the 16-year-old daughter of former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, found herself making headlines when she went on Facebook and wrote multiple posts attacking a schoolmate who had criticized her mom's new reality show.

Her Facebook messages, which were quickly picked up and widely reported by the media, contained multiple curse words and anti-gay slurs. Willow's older sister, Bristol, who also joined the online war of words, later offered an apology -- posted on Facebook, of course -- saying she and Willow "shouldn't have reacted to negative comments about our family."

What would you do if someone wrote something really mean about your mom? And what about the offensive slurs Willow and Bristol used? Are they ever okay -- even if you are really mad? Do you think it's more okay to say mean things about someone who is famous than someone who is not?

Another development: more and more employers are using social media such as Facebook and Twitter, along with sites like Google, to check out the online reputation of someone they are thinking of hiring. College admission officers are also looking online to see what they can find out about students who have applied to their schools.

Do you think most kids understand that what they put online can easily become public? Is it fair for colleges and employers to look you up online? Do you think we are making too many things public these days, including our most personal thoughts, feelings, information, and pictures -- or do you think that people who have grown up with Facebook and Twitter are just more open than people used to be?

To see last week's Family Dinner Download, click here.

Subscribe to receive HuffPost Family Dinner Downloads by email every Friday afternoon.

For more tips and recipes, check out The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time by Laurie David and Kirstin Uhrenholdt.