“If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
--Audre Lorde

Hey readers! If you'd like to have an account on this site (so that you can post comments), or for further information about what you see here, get in touch through the contact page.

User login

Syndicate content


Please Keep Our Conversations off Facebook

Submitted by alycia on Mon, 03/07/2011 - 10:29

I'm sharing a copy of an email that I sent to ALA President Roberta Stevens over at the Readers' Bill of Rights site because I worry about the profession's use of restrictive communication platforms on the web, like Facebook. I recently canceled my Facebook account, and because of this larger decision, I haven't been able to read President Stevens' recent statement on the HarperCollins situation in full (nor can I participate in the "Librarians Against DRM" group discussion any longer, which is unfortunate).

I don't think an ALA member should have to agree to Facebook's terms of service in order to read news from our president. I also think that librarians at large should understand the dangers of restricting information in this way. Let's keep our professional conversations that happen online out of walled gardens and gated communities and on the open web. I highly recommend this piece by friends dkg and jrollins: The Problem with Proprietary Social Networks

If President Stevens responds to my email, I will ask her if I can share her response here. My hope is that she will understand these issues and communicate with ALA members in an open platform.

I am interested to know whether my colleagues also feel that this calls for some kind of resolution to be proposed to the Council--i.e. that ALA should not communicate via restricted third party sites that require a membership to view content. If there are librarians who are interested to bring this resolution to the Council, please get in touch with me, or leave a comment at http://readersbillofrights.info/ALA. I'm interested to hear others' thoughts about this topic and to get some guidance about ALA resolutions in general.

Click through to the RBRfDB page for the letter.


It is worth actually reading Facebook's terms of service. Among their rules: "You will not use Facebook if you are a convicted sex offender." Is that consistent with the ALA's mission? The terms also functionally prohibit anonymity. Do I have to identify myself to access Stevens' opinion?

I still have my Facebook account, for better or for worse, but my name isn't attached to my account. Neither is any email address that I actually use for correspondence. Functionally, my account is anonymousish. It certainly isn't a place where I have professional conversations.

I've been frustrated to find websites where I might like to comment increasingly shifting to Facebook comments. I understand why they're doing it -- when I implemented Disqus on Gotham Gazette, comments shot through the roof and my workload lightened noticeably. No software to maintain and it just worked. Its spam filter seemed to do the trick better than any I'd encountered. I rationalized that Disqus was a small company and they seemed like nice guys. They still are and still do (well, there's the whole "all guys" part. They finally brought a dame on board ... to manage the office! Le sigh.) but eventually Yahoo or Google will buy them out and then they'll be rolled into the borg.

Understanding why news sites are diving head first into bed with Facebook comments doesn't make it easier for me to participate.


Update: President Stevens' responded to my email and let me know that her remarks on Facebook were an "update" not a "statement." You can now view her update here: http://www.robertastevens.com/news.html (there's not a direct link)

I am very glad that President Stevens decided to post this update on the open web, but I still feel that an ALA Resolution would be useful--and that having a conversation about our professional communication would be worthwhile.

Tags for Please Keep Our Conversations off Facebook

Creative Commons license icon Creative Commons license icon
This work is licensed under a Attribution Share Alike Creative Commons license