We recently received this e-mail from a reader, who has given us permission to republish the e-mail but has asked to remain anonymous.
I was really happy to see your article today by Alleen Brown on the recent Supreme Court decisions. It’s so easy to let the “hot” news stories suck all the oxygen out of the room, and then we miss the nuances of these types of shifts.
However, I was very unhappy to see that your new format (looks nice by the way) does not include the non-corporate comment opportunity, as it has in the past.
Really, this is pretty incomprehensible. What corporate board member or vendor has talked you into this?
Facebook—funded by $175 million in Goldman Sachs funds, creating a data farm of half the planet. Google, innocuous, but for how long (?), as it accumulates valuable consumer data. Twitter, who knows what its trajectory is but it’s funded by T. Rowe Price and Morgan Stanley among others—and AOL, proven repeatedly to be a tool of the ruling class.
As an activist, I see over and over how corporate groupthink consciously or unconsciously drives us over the edge into abandoning our principles and giving our mission over to the—who knows? I guess I’m too much of a libertarian to care who, but I know enough to care about the what: that we (don’t) allow the convenient connections provided by a corporate behemoth, bent on harvesting our data, preferences, and profiles, to access our info.
Please, bring the regular non-corporate comments back!
Here is my response to the reader:
“Sorry for the confusion. You may still leave a comment via our non-Facebook comment system; just log in as a Daily Planet user (see the login option in the rightmost column of any story, or at the top of our home page), and you will see the comment submission form appear at the bottom of each article. Thank you for bringing to our attention the fact that the requirement to log in as a user is not made clear—we’ll be taking this up with our Web developer to be remedied as soon as possible.
“We implemented Facebook commenting after careful consideration of the pros and cons. The Facebook system makes it very easy for users to comment in real time, and we have found that we have received many more comments overall since we’ve added the Facebook commenting functionality. Since our goal is to serve as a hub of connection and conversation for Minnesota communities, we feel the need to consider any feature that facilitates that conversation—even if it involves a privately-owned third-party corporation. To be clear, we were not pressured into this by any corporate representative—it was solely to meet our users’ evident preference to have Facebook commenting as an option.
“We do want to allow users a non-Facebook option, which is why our standard commenting system remains in place—and why we’re going to work to make that more clear to our users. Unfortunately, our non-Facebook commenting system has attracted the attention of international spammers, who have deluged our servers trying to abuse the system to leave advertisements for everything from porn to fake designer bags. When this happens, it can grind our servers to a halt as they try to fight the onslaught—this leads to reduced access speed for everyone, and sometimes even system crashes. This is the reason why we now require a user login to leave non-Facebook comments: it dramatically reduces our site’s attractiveness to these destructive spammers.
“Thanks for reading, and for writing. Your observation will help us to make our site more user-friendly.”
Do you have any thoughts on our Facebook commenting feature, or on our site generally? Let us know in a comment below—Facebook or non-Facebook, as you prefer.