Monthly Archives: March 2011

Facebook Comments and The One Identity

The implementation of Facebook comments has been described by many media outlets as another attempt by the “social network” empire to extend its tentacles into other areas of the web. The feature basically allows visitors to a website to leave a comment on that website with their Facebook identity. The upside of this feature is, once again, added conenience. With Facebook comments on an external website, there is no need to sign up for the commenting system any more, to register one’s email (and confirm it), remember yet another password, and wait for an email confirmation before even being able to post the first comment. For the administrators of the external website, the added convenience is even more significant: As some of the first implementations have shown, Facebook comments practically eliminate spamming and trolling in comments. Every comment entered via this system is linked to the Facebook identity of the commenter, which also means that, at least in the default settings, all of their Facebook friends will see it immediately (or the next time they log on to Facebook, whichever comes first). Commenting and the rest of the commenter’s social activity on Facebook become inseparable.

Now, as desirable as social control for spammers and trolls may be (assuming they have any Facebook friends at all), the repercussions for the average Facebook users are grave. If they have to rely on Facebook comments to voice their opinion on, say, a political article, there’s no way to keep this opinion separated from individual or all of their Facebook friends. Gone are the days when you could simply enjoy meeting a relative for a holiday dinner; now you’ll be aggravated because you had to read their notorious ultra-conservative political statements all year. The One Identity scheme this propagates is a significant departure from the concept of identity as we know it: Typically, the only place where you had to fully integrate all the aspects of your identity was in your own consciousness. Even there, you could try to deceive yourself about things you didn’t like. Facebook now tries to make this impossible. If followed through with all consequences, every aspect of an identity would be kept in one place, visible to all, and searchable by all, indefinitely. The only other option: muteness.

TechCrunch Self-Observation: Troll Hunting
Engadget Editorial: The Single Identity