Saturday, March 12, 2011

Facebook Wall question

I sometimes have the question asked of me, "Danny, you are such a strong advocate of transparency and access; aren't you being a hypocrite by not allowing others to comment on your Facebook wall?"

This has always struck me as a rather strange question because it confuses the obligations of a person with the obligations of a state or corporation. It is true that I think that, say, governments should be relatively transparent -- that's a prerequisite for accountability. I, on the other hand, am a priori accountable to no one so I don't have those same obligations.

This accusation is analogous to claiming that WikiLeaks is a hypocritical organization because its members don't share all their internal communication with the world (many in the mainstream media do make this point after each release from WikiLeaks in order to discredit the organization). As if 1) there is any equivalence between the transparency obligations of states/corporations and activist groups or 2) WikiLeaks isn't facing an existential threat from organizations that would use that internal information to try and destroy the group.

But that aside, there is a valid question contained within the query. Why do I have the personal preference of configuring my Facebook Wall settings in such a way? I just don't feel that it is worth the time and mental strain to police my Facebook profile 24/7 to expunge things said by others (whether said out of malice, ignorance or superfluousness) that I would rather not have on there. There are sufficient potentially undesirable comments that may be put on one's profile for this to be a valid concern.

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