Wednesday, 29 May 2013

WordPress Daily prompt: Freedom of Facebook

Facebook has recently come under attack for failing to enforce its own guidelines on hate speech and violent imagery. Is it a website’s job to moderate the content its users post, or should users have complete freedom? Is there a happy medium? If so, how would you structure it?
I generally only use photos I take myself, but this time I "borrowed" it from our local newspaper "AZ Zeitung" as it was so appropriate.

Attack on facebook

It is not often that our little Switzerland decides to declare war. We are a neutral country, never take sides, and put up with everything (unless it is connected with money). At the moment we do have a little war with the States, to be exact the States have a war with us. We are convinced we have done nothing wrong. Just helped a few American citizens to let their money escape to Switzerland, and avoid US taxes. However that is not the topic here, perhaps that will crop up with another prompt like “Have you ever cheated your government?”.

No, at the moment Switzerland has a bigger problem. We have a war with Facebook, although it is a one-sided war as according to the general Facebook policy, they hear no evil, think no evil and close down their screens when a problem crops up. So what is the problem? It seems that some Facebook members told everyone to have a demonstration in our capital town of Bern. Bern is generally a good place to go shopping (covered arcades on the main streets), see the bears (yes we have a bear park) and take photos of the Parliament building.

In the evening the town usually goes to sleep, but one evening this week it did not sleep, but thanks to our social friend Facebook it had a so called “Dance yourself Free” evening. It all started so peacefully, everyone dancing in the street, thousands dancing in the street. If someone on Facebook says we are having a party, then everyone joins in. Unfortunately things did get out of hand. The alcohol was flowing and soon the police were also flowing to the area around the parliament building. It just got a little hectic when the dancers decided to demolish the barriers, which had been erected to protect our wonderful parliament building. They the water jets started flowing and eventually the police mixed it all with a little tear gas, just to emphasize the point. The result was a lot of expensive damage, a few injured dancers and the parliament square was not a wonderful example of Swiss cleanliness and nice and tidy.

The Bernese government  searched for the guilty party and decided it was Facebook. If someone in Facebook had not called everyone to dance in the streets, this would not have happened and there would not have been any destruction in the town of Bern. So now you see our politician deciding to fight against the windmills of Facebook in the cartoon, but they will keep turning as ever. After all what is Switzerland with its eight million population compared to Facebook with its worldwide population.

So to continue: as far as Facebook is concerned, you can always leave the site, you do not have to read it, and you can surf in better places, but we do not, do we? Of course not: somewhere someone finds that they love their mother, their sister, their dog or cat. They have a need to tell everyone that God is with you all the time (in facebook?) and they absolutely must spread the news about their boyfriend that is the best in the world, or perhaps the worst, according to what is written. It is all there in Facebook, just press the right button.

There will never be a happy medium, forget it. As far as people are concerned, they generally want to talk about themselves. If you want to be kind to someone, just press a “like” and we are all happy.

Internet is a basically a dangerous place. If you venture into the big wide world of Facebook then just have a read, but be careful with participation. I do not find that Facebook is doing anything wrong. It is the members that encourage the hate and violence. I generally just hide stuff I do not want to read, it is very easy; just a little hook on the right-hand side of a post and it disappears. You can also report postings that you do not agree with, although I do not know if anyone really reads the reports.

For me a storm in a tea cup: Facebook is a business, they make profits and earn money. They do not care what we do with it. It is completely up to you whether you make it a good thing or bad. It is a matter of common sense. When someone starts ranting that Facebook are storing you telephone numbers, it is only because you have given it to them in the first place. They do not have the time or people to check on the millions of members to see what their telephone number is. It is a matter of common sense. There are always trolls, or spammers that try to get you. You received an e-mail from Facebook? You open it and you have a virus. It is your own fault. Facebook do not send e-mails to their members, only reports of what your colleagues have written. There is no photo of the month, and you will not be contacted by the Facebook director or whatever. Just use your brain. If you are in Internet, then think and do not just nod your head to every stupidity.

It is my birthday in December. If I tell everyone in Facebook I am giving a party, bring your own drink, guaranteed I will have the complete population of my village, my local town knocking at the door; perhaps a few thousand from Zürich. So wake up people, and think whose fault it really is.

In the meanwhile the Swiss Government is still fighting its battle with the Facebook windmills and Mark Zuckerberg is counting his millions and wondering what to do next. Perhaps a new Timeline that no-one wants, but has to put up with. Who knows?


  1. Censorship is always a tricky notion. What is offensive to one person may not necessarily be to another. However, there are certain things which are considered to be beyond socially acceptable standards for the vast majority, and any company should be accountable for beaches of them. TV stations, newspapers, etc are required to maintain such standards, why shouldn't social media sites?

    1. They don't do it and never will. They just host the sites, make the profits and it is up to us to do the rest. It has never really bothered me. I just hide what annoys me. I can always leave. It is not Facebook that makes the stupid comments or shows the negative stuff, it is the spammers etc. I have no problem with Facebook. I just use it to crosspost my blogs and keep contact with a few far spread friends and family members.

  2. In Bern? The world has gone mad, what is wrong with people lately. I had to unlike a group I was a member of, it was for the Rhino cause, but things got heated up when a couple of poachers (black) were caught and hang them, cut of their .... and Ka...... were brandied around. I had to point out to them that the first 3some caught last year were Afrikaans speaking, white, veterinarians, so not a black problem, besides the fact that our people are so poor and desperate, if you give anyone a gun and R 1000.00. they will be prepared to risk their life and go shoot a rhino. My comment did not go down well, so I left the group. The last thing I need in my life is racial hate speech.

    Delete and block works well on FB too. I like the easy way of keeping in touch, it passes the time without me having to think too much. I am hibernating, it is easy to share and blog when happy and all is well, difficult when one is in the dumps and not sure which side to go to.

    As per usual enjoyed your write. Hugs

    1. It is true If you have no money for the family and for existence, then you take it where you find it. Switzerland has its fair share of crime, although it is a small country. Yesterday 2 Turks were badly injured in Zürich a shooting in the underworld probably as it was the so-called Langstrasse in Zürich which is the center - bars and houses where young ladies do nightwork (and daytime as well). I really have no problem with FB, just a matter of common sense.