Facebook rears it's head again in the virtual world, this time dealing with readers commenting on stories on the USA Today online website. The decision was made by parent company Gannett to switch from a previous system that allowed anonymous comments to one that requires commenters to sign in through their Facebook accounts. The new approach, which applies to all of Gannett's newspaper and broadcast websites, went into effect this month.
I completely understand their concern. In this day and age, the electronic world can allow anyone to access other people's personal information more easily than ever. For example, if someone posts a comment that might offend several people on their Facebook account, those people now have plenty of information to harass that person or try to take the conflict even further.
I agree with the spokesperson that the Facebook commenting tool does encourage more high-quality contributions from readers and that the format is a lot more professional than the former commenting method on the website.
"If news organizations want to host conversations around content, they need to understand what it means to hand off interaction to a third party social media site like Facebook," says Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. "We see more and more journalism taking place on third party platforms, but the journalistic intent is not designed into these platforms."
I agree with what Bell is saying concerning the situation as well. The USA Today website is turning to a third party to assist with covering conversation and reader comments on their website. If someone doesn't have a Facebook account or doesn't feel comfortable posting from their account, then the USA Today website is going to slowly lose its reader interaction.
At the end of the day, readers have to be comfortable posting under their real name from their official Facebook account. It really is getting harder and harder to keep things private in this day and age.
|Times have changed|