This Is Not A Defense Of Facebook

I hate Facebook. Its privacy stuff is one thing. But I’ve hated Facebook since before I started futzing around with privacy settings. I’ve hated it since it became a forum for people to demand I join things or sign things or take inane quizzes or ask me to play games with them. And I’ve really hated it since it started trying to force me to add pages to my profile or download an application if in a moment of weakness I choose to upload photos. Everything I want to do with social media I can do with Twitter, like a normal person. More importantly, Twitter doesn’t demand that I do things I don’t want to do with social media. I look forward to the day when Facebook no longer exists, or is at least reduced to a Friendster-like irrelevance. If you saw my presentation to the University of Maryland’s Knight Center about internet journalism a couple months ago, you’ve heard my whole rant.

So I endorse my former boss Laura McGann’s attack on Facebook and my friend Amanda Mattos’ decision to shut down her account. Indeed, I shut mine down last year — after it was repeatedly hacked — and felt great about it. But.

The fact is Facebook has some utility for the working journalist trying to communicate with people overseas. Believe it or not, there are foreign officials out there who are significantly more responsive to Facebook messages than emails. And there are potential sources who are more likely to drop you a fB line than they are to email you. With regret, a couple months ago I reopened my Facebook account in order to accomodate this professional reality. It’s a hard life I lead.

This is just in the interest 0f accurately representing where we currently are with social media. I’m sure that if Twitter decided to allow open direct messaging — not that it should — a lot of migration from Facebook would occur. But we’re just not there yet.

Don’t you ever, however, expect me to respond to your LinkedIn or Plaxo request. Ever.

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Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman