I was shocked when I opened up my Facebook last week and saw a local newspaper was requesting to be my Friend. Now I am all for newspapers having Facebook pages to promote their newspaper and news stories, which people can choose to like but I didn’t like that they had set up a personal account. Through this account they seemed to be actively friending people through it with no perceivable connection to the newspaper besides living in the area of which the newspaper covered.
Should newspapers be allowed to have access to people’s personal updates and should they be actively wanting it? The only reason I could see for wanting Friends instead of Likes on Facebook, is to gather news without having to leave the desk in the office. With access to peoples Facebook profiles, it gives the newspaper quick access to people opinions and personal stories, which they may not want shared in a newspaper and spread to the community in which they live.
If a newspaper was to directly quote from a person’s Facebook account or base a story about information they share, then it could negatively impact that person in their community and could do untold damage to their relationships and mental wellbeing. The news shouldn’t be about invading our lives, it should be a reporting of things happening in the world, that we can choose to engage with at whatever level we feel comfortable.
Moving in the wrong way
I know newspapers are trying to move with the way the world is moving and trying to do everything as efficiently as possible, but I think this is a step too far. The newspaper market has come under massive attack from the digital revolution, so anything for them to grab attention and do things cheaply I’m sure appeals to them and I can’t blame them for this, so this is why I think we need industry standards, laws and government to look at things like this.
Now you mustn’t get me wrong, I have no problem with news companies searching the Internet to look at user generated content that users are happily sharing with the public. I think this is wise as it helps gauge opinion and helps get the human side of stories to put them in to balance. What I think is dangerous is this want for more and this thirst to know everything and to know more than competitors, which leads to things like them trying to connect with people who don’t share information outside their friends groups.
Information is dangerous
Why should a news company get to choose what information you share is relevant and worthy of using? Information in the wrong hands or used the wrong way is very dangerous. So my message to news companies would be to stop and think about the damage that could be caused before they think of doing something similar.
I voted with a click of a button and declined their friend request and all I can say is that I hope others do the same. I don’t want to live in a ‘news state’ any more than I want to live in a ‘police state’ but I fear things like this are bringing us closer to that.