Ruminations on the State of Modern Journalism
Seriously, what is going on with Facebook?
First the social media site says it’s going to make it possible for total strangers to find you on its site (you can’t hide anymore) and now it’s OK to post violent videos, such as beheadings, for everyone to see. As expected, this latest decision is generating enormous criticism — but hey, what good is it going to do? Facebook is going to do what it wants to do, and most of its users — including all these media critics — will realize the futility of complaining and go back to yelling about Ted Cruz or Obamacare.
This is a pretty scary development, largely because Facebook’s rationale is preposterous. Why allow violence and not nudity? Facebook says violent videos, like beheadings, can stir public debate on such punishments. Well, nudity can also be framed in a way to encourage public debate and commentary. Of course, no sensible person would want any of these things available for his or her children to see, but if you’re going to argue in favor of one, you can’t selectively ignore the other. Let’s not forget too that Facebook prohibited a photo a two gay men kissing. In a country seeing enormous social and political shifts around gay marriage, is this form of affection truly more dangerous (and less relevant) than beheadings?
The big question here is whether allowing the upload of violent acts will encourage crime, especially among young people. Traditional media has long stopped short of showing gory imagery — not because of concern over glorification, but out of concern for the audience. Facebook is proving — like most media outlets today — that its business model and long-term relevance and popularity is more important than what’s in the best interest of its users.