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PoMo Editor Strikes

12 Mar 2010
Posted by Shannon

Facebook is “threatening to sue” London’s Daily Mail due to a copy editor who decided to spice up a story about how social networking is a hotbed of pedophiles. According to The Guardian, the Mail ran a story on how 14-year-old girls who post their profiles would be approached “within seconds” by dirty old men.

 Alas, this is not true. Jazzy, but not true. Even the writer says so.

Apparently Mark Williams-Thomas, a criminologist under whose byline this ran, told the editor that he used another social networking site, but Facebook’s well-known name still made it into the hed. And online, of course, that kind of story took on a life of its own.

Meanwhile the Daily Mail was ducking FB’s calls. (Hmm...Did they try them on Facebook?)

 FB says their privacy settings prevent minors being contacted by anyone over 18, and the Mail’s erroneous assertion will damage their U.K. market, which has reached 23 million users.

Really, I think Facebook should be flattered. It’s gone from being a brand name for one of a bunch of social networking sites, to being the only name in social networking. Much the way Kleenex became the name for all tissue. Or Hoover became the verb for vacuuming.

But I think this is also an example of why Post Modernist thinking is such a hazard in newspapers. You can almost hear the PoMo editor’s defence.

 “Well, you see, it felt true that this could happen on Facebook. And feelings are just another kind of knowledge…”

 Uh huh. Tell it to the judge.