Facebook has made a profound mark on the world, I get it. However, I choose not to be friends with malware that comes in a fun package to make people money. That is my choice. The perplexing part is, I've started seeing more scenarios lately — outside of Facebook — that require me to have a Facebook account.
For example, USA TODAY, an American newspaper, requires readers to have a Facebook account to comment on news articles and participate in open discussion of news. That's right. A newspaper that bleeds red, white and blue doesn't care about what you have to say unless there is emphasis on the white and blue. I noticed this a few months ago, but hang on to your idioms because it's gotten worse. Now, USA TODAY requires each reader to operate on Facebook, display a photo of themselves and be connected with four 'friends' in order to post a visible opinion about nationwide news.
I decided to ask USA TODAY Opinion a series of questions via my Twitter handle, @Evictthesewords:
1. Yeah, why do you exclude people from commenting on public interest news stories unless they have a Facebook?
2. Do you think media lack integrity when the only way to express an opinion on a story requires a Facebook account?
4. Why is it relevant to require a Facebook photo and least four friends to post a comment on an online news story?
5. Do you think it's ethical for a news publication to work for Facebook?
6. Facebook permeates almost every aspect of life now. Don't you think public interest news should remain unbiased?
@EvictTheseWords Sorry you object to our commenting policy. We understand many users are not interested in using Facebook to comment. " - @USATOpinion
7. So you "understand" but don't care. Is that what you're saying?
8. Since commenting online requires a Facebook account, do you only care about sponsored opinions? Biased much?
@EvictTheseWords Our aim is to encourage high-quality and relevant contributions." - @USATOpinion
" @EvictTheseWords By holding commenters accountable for their actions via Facebook, we hope to keep conversation interesting and stimulating." - @USATOpinion
9. "Holding users accountable..." So you want people to censor what they really think by fearing accountability?
10. Can't you do the same thing by letting users log in through email or Twitter? It's FB or no way. Makes no sense.
"We're not trying to exclude anybody,
@EvictTheseWords. We're aiming for civil discussion. Stay tuned for possible video answer. #askusatoday" - @USATOpinion
12. Civil discussion that includes a specific group of people. Not everyone. Only people with a FB account, photo & four friends.
13. What's the point in me "staying tuned" when I can't participate in discussion? That's what you're not understanding. Exclusion.
Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but the last time I checked, a publication caters to its audience. In this case, the audience is the United States of America. That's 313,961,415 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, July 16 2012. Checkfacebook.com, a daily tracker that uses data from Facebook's advertising tool, claims 155,707,160 Americans currently use Facebook today. For the 158,254,255 U.S. citizens leftover, USA TODAY redirects their freedom of speech to the virtual dumpster.
It's kind of silly how a nationwide publication supports online social discrimination in the Land of the Free. It's also silly that USA TODAY claims its Facebook commenting policy aims to "hold commenters accountable for their actions," but completely disregards sources like Gmail, Twitter, blogs and other outlets for readers to present themselves and amplify their opinions about news.
So, is this a matter of money? Does Facebook slide a dollar into the USA TODAY wallet every time a user comments on a piece of news? Does USA TODAY pay Facebook for the commenting feature so articles will spread quicker on the largest social network in the world, so it doesn't have to waste time with other internet outlets? Do news media want to spy on us too?
We can never really know. But speaking as one of the 158,254,255 Americans who would like to live a Facebook-free life and still have a valued opinion, I kindly invite USA TODAY to go fuck itself.
https://twitter.com/EvictTheseWords (July 15, 2012)