Anti-journalism

Facebook puts vulnerable children at risk of depression, warn doctors‘ [istyosty link]. From the article:

‘A lot of what’s happening is actually very healthy, but it can go too far,’ [Dr Megan Moreno] said…

Parents shouldn’t get the idea that using Facebook ‘is going to somehow infect their kids with depression,’ she said.

Too late, if people actually believe what they read on the Mail Online website.

In other news: ‘Isn’t it a bit early for that? Britney Spears films free concert for Good Morning America (and what a raunchy wake-up call it will be)‘ [istyosty link, has to be seen to be believed]. The article sees fit to demonstrate just how raunchy the routine is by accompanying it with 21 photos and 2 Youtube videos. This really is anti-journalism in action.

Facebook cannot commit crime

Primly Stable blogged earlier about how MailOnline editor Martin Clarke mentioned in a recent speech that 10 per cent of Mail Online’s ‘UK traffic now comes in via Facebook, making it the biggest source of traffic for the site after Google’. I have covered why the Daily Mail likes to criticise Facebook to generate extra hits before but I guess the EDL Facebook pages drive a far amount of traffic to the Mail website as well. Anyway, on the day that Primly Stable blogs the huge amount of traffic the Mail gets from Facebook it goes and prints this: ‘Facebook crimes have soared 7,400 per cent in just three years, police force reveals‘. The article lists the social ill that the website is responsible for:

Facebook was opened to the public in September 2006 after only being accessible to university students for its first two years.

Perverts have used the site to groom victims while criminals have used it to make threats, intimidate, bully and harass.

Campaign groups claim sex offenders use websites such as Facebook and conceal their identity to snare children and women.

The popular website has this year been linked to 255 domestic violence incidents in the county, 426 reports of malicious nuisance and 210 of anti-social behaviour.

Basically, the whole article could be sensibly summed-up as: ‘Facebook reflects society’. Crime happens. Crime happened before Facebook, will happen with Facebook and will continue happening without Facebook. The whole article is just silly. It would be like constantly pointing out that criminals use cars. Imagine the Daily Mail reporting that: ‘Crimes linked to cars increased by 1,00,000% since 1930’. Stories like:

A wife was battered by her ex-husband the other day. The husband was thought to HAVE DRIVEN A CAR TO HER HOUSE to commit the savage crime. It is just the latest example of cars being linked to domestic abuse. Cars have also been linked to untold bank robberies, fraud (some bankers are said to have committed fraud WHILST IN THE BACK SEAT OF A MOVING CAR) and every other criminal act that has involved getting from one place to another in one. Perverts and paedophiles have used cars to transport victims – POSSIBLY YOUR CHILD – to their homes. A police spokesman said: ‘we are seeing an increasing amount of crime that has been committed thanks to cars. I think the main reason is that everyone drives one, so you’re bound to have criminals in some of them’.

Facebook is a social networking site, it is not capable of committing a crime. That is the sole responsibility of the user, perhaps someone should sit down and slowly explain this fact to all of the Daily Mail hacks.

Facebook Ruining Daughter’s Future

It seems that a week cannot pass without the Daily Mail attacking Facebook. We have now had Facebook accused of: causing cancer, nearly killing people, causing syphilis and many more inane stories that I cannot be bothered to track down at the moment. It isn’t just Facebook, but the Internet or social media in general that the Daily Mail despises. They argued that Twitter causes ‘brain overload’ and referred to it as part of ‘electronic junk’ that is ruining our lives. They have also referred to the ‘first’ Friends Reunited murder, as if it was an inevitability and just the first of many more to come.

You could argue that there are many reasons why newspapers have to attack the Internet and social media; I’ll just focus on one: they’re scared. In the good old days when people only had four TV channels it was easy for newspapers to make huge amounts of money through sales and advertising. It was also easy for newspapers to print any old rubbish because how could people check? OK, they still print absolute rubbish for the majority of the time, but at least now people can check out the stories and read a wealth of blogs who will do the fact-checking for them.

But more than that: we can interact on our own terms with people who interest us. Whether it is via Internet forums, blogs, Twitter or whatever we can find like-minded people and people who challenge us. This pisses of newspapers because we’re only supposed to be interested in their writers, their celebrities or columnists; only their lives are worth following or reading about, our lives are ‘electronic junk’.

A while back the hypocrisy of this was made clear by Lorna Martin who wrote:

There seems to be an increasing feeling in the world of: ‘If I don’t have an audience, if I don’t have followers, if I don’t have fame or even micro-fame, if my every movement and thought – no matter how mundane, uninspired or unwitty – is not shared, recorded and validated, then I am worthless, nothing, a nobody.’

Fair point, you could argue, but then what exactly do columnists do? They drivel on about inane goings on in their lives and assume we’re interested. Lorna Martin spends hundreds of words after the above doing the mundane, uninspired, unwitty shit she was just complaining about.

You know who the really good writers are? You know who the really interesting people on Twitter are? Well, they are the ones who are not famous but have a big readership or Twitter following. They don’t write articles that go into a newspaper and may or may not be read, they post on their own blogs which will only be read if it is particularly good (or sometimes, horrifically bad). How many readers would an unknown Richard Littlejohn have if he started a blog now? Apart from people visiting to laugh at another barely literate fact-free idiot picking up a keyboard, I doubt he’d have much of an audience. Likewise, how many celebrities would have a large Twitter following if it wasn’t for their names, how many of them actually are worth following?

Newspaper writers are worried because they rely on a static audience, one that cannot pick and choose which article to read, but have to buy the whole lot. Clearly, this is changing, now newspaper columnists might have to try and get a readership interested in just their output – no crutch of being part of a team of writers, nowhere to hide. How many of them are slightly worried that they’re about to be found out as just not very popular at all, because they’re not only frighteningly mundane and talentless, they’re also lazy cowards as well.

Which, inane rambling as it has been, leads me to today’s Daily Mail attack on Facebook: ‘Facebook is wrecking my daughter’s future‘. The writer – Simon Mills – argues that:

Discovering Laurie’s habit was so very disappointing and saddening to me because I’d always presumed that Facebook was for the thick, sad, lonely and pointlessly solipsistic – not for someone gifted with fully-formed social skills and an engaging line in face-to-face contact…

Where she sees a useful communication tool, I see a scarily Orwellian, mind-numbing, childish and, eventually, utterly stupid way of passing precious time.

But is it? Laurie makes it clear that she uses Facebook as a social tool, arranging / attending parties and chatting to existing friends, what precisely is ‘utterly stupid’ about that? A caption underneath a picture of Lily Allen states: ‘Singer Lilly Allen used to use Facebook but has since kicked the habit’, Facebook is being made to sound as evil and addictive as heroin.

Whether the attack is launched against Facebook, Twitter or any other type of Internet information sharing system, the message is clear: the newspapers are scared that we’ll find each other more interesting than the hateful lies they publish on a daily basis. The Internet gives power to the many, and takes it away from the media, the few – to an extent. The quicker this power shift becomes more pronounced, the better.

Facebook, Jones, Littlejohn

Facebook saves the day!

The Daily Mail has been telling us for months how just how dangerous facebook is; they say that it can nearly destroy marriages, make users ‘indifferent to human suffering‘ , can lead to your murder and of course: it can cause cancer. So, you can imagine my surprise when I log onto the Daily Mail website and see a positive story about Facebook, or at least a story that isn’t overtly telling you that Facebook will do evil things to you and your family: Gun-toting gang members jailed after being ‘named and shamed’ on Facebook.

Perhaps we are really getting back into the realms of prioritising enemies, here clearly a gang of feral youths brandishing weapons are higher on the scale of evil than Facebook. Therefore Facebook can be brought into the article as a positive thing because the use of it in identifying the youths has lead to their convictions – some of them for murder.

Sadly, though, I don’t think the Daily Mail or its readers are going to learn the real lesson that is screaming out from this story: the Internet, like anything else can be used in different ways. It is therefore not inherently evil or good, it is merely a tool to be shaped by the person using it. A gang of youths decided to use the Internet to post pictures of themselves posing with weapons: bad. A woman who would is protecting her identity through fear of reprisals finds these public documents and creates a Facebook page to name and shame them which leads directly to the swift and successful police action.

Two very different uses of the same medium that should make it perfectly clear to them that the Internet is only as evil as the person using it and doesn’t actually want to force your teenage daughter into shooting porn flicks as soon as she turns 18. On this note it should also be considered just how the Daily Mail uses the Internet: it fills its homepage with semi-nude pictures of female celebrities on right side, whilst it incites racial hatred on the left side. Again, proving the point that the Internet can be put to very evil purposes in the hands of an inherently evil user.

Liz Jones asks a question I’m just dying to answer


Of course, Liz, the answer is it doesn’t help Exmoor at all because they shot your mailbox, not you. Not that I wish to condone any form of violence but I think when you start calling the locals ‘toothless’, uncultured idiots with learning difficulties you can start to change your attitude towards violence. Read Liz Jones defending her actions over at The Daily Quail: LIZ JONES: These ugly one eyed yokels aren’t doing themselves any favours.

Richard Littlejohn explains how he embraced extremism

Richard Littlejohn’s clever tribute to Keith Waterhouse is purposely written to make Waterhouse’s prose seem even better than Mail readers remember by being so utterly drab, cliched and sleep-inducing. After nailing a ‘person has died’ cliche on the first line he quickly moves onto a mixed metaphor: ‘When Keith Waterhouse hung up his typewriter in May, his friends feared it would kill him.’ They were right to be concerned, typewriters are heavy and not designed to be hung anywhere; Keith was frail and who knows how high the hook was.

Richard Littlejohn also talks of his personal struggle as he ‘stumbled uncertainly in his slipstream… in awe of his genius.’ Littlejohn also cites him as an ‘inspiration’, insulting Keith Waterhouses’ memory with the implication that he has somehow inspired Richard Littlejohn to churn out the same repetitive drivel twice a week for what already feels like longer than Waterhouses’ lengthy career as a columnist.

However, perhaps the biggest chunk of sweetcorn contained within the piece is Littlejohn’s candid recognition of how he became radicalised into a shitty columnist for a racist scream-sheet: ‘Before I wrote for the Daily Mail, I was a Daily Mail reader.’ That explains everything. Needless to say Richard is still an avid reader of the Daily Mail, but he know refers to this as ‘research’.

For more on Richard Littlejohn’s tribute to Keith Waterhouse see Sarah Ditum over at Paperhouse.