Facebook Asks For User Input interview

One of the many interviews I gave to students last week resulted in an article:


The reported seems to have recorded and presented my words accurately, but there are some contextual errors in this story.

Key passages (with my commentary, following):

Rick Stevens, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism, said he thinks Facebook’s attempted terms of use were “pretty awful.”

“The new terms of agreement kind of reflect what Facebook often tries to do, which is control [its users],” Stevens said. “What Facebook was trying to do, yes, was reprehensible but many corporations have done the same thing.”

I didn't say Facebook tries to control its users. I said Facebook tries to maintain control of the content posted on its site. Important distinction, but not a critical error.

Stevens said the Facebook community is the best place to stop offensive changes to Facebook.

“The community could be powerful when it gets focused and when it understands the issue at hand,” Stevens said.

Ok, the direct quote is correct, but I did not say the "best place" to stop said changes would be within Facebook. I personally think if someone is concerned enough with the changes, they should file a lawsuit for improper notification of changes to a binding agreement (which is the real problem, still not addressed).

Stevens said at the end of the day, Facebook’s main job is to cater to its users, making them the most powerful influence on changes to the social networking site.

“The content that is being produced on their site is the attractor, the item that brings people to that site to begin with,” Stevens said. “If people were to lose interest in Facebook and move to another platform, Facebook would lose its goldmine and it knows that, so [Facebook officials] are trying to find ways to hang onto that content.”

Oy! The direct quote is, one again, correct. But the summary lead-in is just flat wrong. I didn't say that, I don't think that.

I think I understand what happened here. The quotes, dispersed in small blocks, required the reporter/editor to add a transition. And when she/he did, the result was a summary of what he/she THOUGHT I meant, supported by the direct quote. But I didn't say that, and if he/she thought I meant to say that, he/she misunderstood more about my views than I originally thought. The lead-in adds context that misrepresents my words.


Anonymous said...

Now you can relate to Rush Limbaugh as you have been taken out of context by the media - see how easy it is to do, and how frustrating it is to have your message muddled?