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Commentary: I've given up Facebook, commenting on D.P.

January 15, 2013|By Geoff West

Hello, my name is Geoff, and I'm a Facebook addict. That's how I recently began the process of assessing my participation on Facebook — the most popular social networking site in the world.

Some of you know that I've been a regular contributor of commentaries and letters to the editor here for more than a decade and that I've published a blog, A Bubbling Cauldron, that addresses mostly local political issues for more than seven years. I joined Facebook to expand the market awareness of my blog activities by posting links to individual entries. It served that objective well, with the readership increasing dramatically since I became a "Facebookian," a term my nephew uses to describe those of us who participate. Of course, much of that increase was also probably due to the contentious nature of our local politics for the past couple of years, and the frequency of my posts covering it.

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I also found Facebook to be a useful tool for staying in touch with friends and relatives, some of whom are in remote locations and use the social network as their only means of communication. As time passed and I accumulated more "friends" — folks I wouldn't know if I tripped over them — I found myself learning way, way too much about the minutia of their lives. And, during the past couple of years, Facebook has been a forum for much political discourse — some of it pretty darn heated at times. I became hooked.

However, the intrusive downside of Facebook has finally become too much of an ordeal for me. When this fine newspaper and the Orange County Register finally threw in the towel in the battle of editing comments on their articles this year and chose to require every commenter to be on Facebook, it became the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. By doing so, they abdicated any control over the comments that appear on these pages online to Facebook. No longer do the editors of these newspapers get a vote — beyond that of any other Facebook user, who can block someone and prohibit their participation.

Now, if someone claims a comment has somehow "abused" them, an algorithm in a Facebook server farm decides if an "abuse" has actually occurred, and what the punishment might be. Facebook controls the game, decides who gets to play, and for how long. Facebook decides if your comment will be deleted, whether you'll be required to "stand in the corner" for a day, or whether you'll be banished for life.

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