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Sunday, March 16, 2008

As if I needed a reason to bail

A while back I wrote a post about how I viewed Facebook as a potential source of time-wastage that I could really do without.  I'd signed up on a lark and kept the account active mostly to keep track of my teen-aged daughter's on-line activities (she's aware of this).

But the recent decision by Facebook to re-designate Israeli towns and villages (i.e. settlements) beyond the green-line as residing in the as-yet-to-be-established country of 'Palestine' was pretty much the last nail in the coffin for me. 

But as if to add insult to injury, I noticed that my town (one of the largest in the 'west bank') has been deleted altogether!   I sent a short note of protest to Facebook and, not surprisingly, haven't gotten a response. 

So that's it for me Facebook.  I watched as you refused to lift a finger to block Facebook groups calling for the elimination of Israel, and allowed new groups to prosper that openly celebrated the murder of Israeli children.  You've obviously thrown in your lot with the Israel bashers and anti-Semites (I'm sure you'll have plenty to talk about), so I'm throwing my lot elsewhere.

I strongly encourage anyone with a sense of decency and fairness to cancel their Facebook accounts and let them know why you are doing it.  This isn't 1937 and you aren't stranded in Berlin with six kids and a baby grand piano.  There are plenty of Social Networking sites out there to choose from.  Heck there are actual real-live people out there... and sunshine.  Turn off the computer and go outside!

Don't thank me... I'm a giver.

Posted by David Bogner on March 16, 2008 | Permalink


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Far be it from me to tell you to how to waste your time ;-), but a Facebook group calling for the non-renaming of Israeli towns succeeded in getting them to be named back as towns located in Israel rather than in "Palestine.". Is yours really called "Palestine" now? If so, I'll contact the owner of that protest group and have it re-established, she had taken it down when Facebook responded to our protest.

Posted by: Joshua Lee | Mar 16, 2008 5:15:48 PM

Joshua Lee... At last check my town was still among the missing and most of the other 'settlements' were listed twice; once as Israel and once as Palestine.

Obviously this is just silly since there is not one single person living in any of these towns that considers themselves residents of this fictional entity called 'Palestine'.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 16, 2008 5:20:42 PM

The reason is that Facebook responded to the protests and is now giving a choice to the individual members as to how they would like to be listed.

Posted by: jordan Hirsch | Mar 16, 2008 5:33:02 PM

What should i dress up as on purim, David?

Posted by: David, UK | Mar 16, 2008 5:40:31 PM

jordan Hirsch... Once more with feeling: There is no country called Palestine. However, if someone in Ibdal Ibrahim (one of the Arab villages near my town) wants to be able to sign up and see his hometown listed as 'Palestine'... why not. No skin of my nose. But there is no ambiguity about which communities are Israeli and which are not... so listing Israeli communities as both Israel and Palestine is not really a palatable solution, now is it. It is a direct provocation as if to say, 'See, we're being so even-handed that even you dirty kikes can't complain'. To which I say, "Watch me".

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 16, 2008 5:42:32 PM

David, UK... Well from what I've read, Quentin Crisp and Dame Edna are unlikely to raise many eyebrows. ;-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 16, 2008 5:46:03 PM

I am so pleased to now have an excuse for not pursuing a Facebook account, I can't tell you.

Know anything juicy about MySpace?

Posted by: balabusta in blue jeans | Mar 16, 2008 8:22:51 PM

I assume you saw that I was quoted in that article.

I really do think that Facebook is not antisemitic, or even anti-Israel. They just looked for an easy way to make a buck. Instead of letting everyone pick their own hometown from free text, why not force them to pick from a list? That way the advertisers can market directly to the towns. And as we all know, marketing departments are the source of all evil :)

Of course when they did this, they didn't expect any real controversy. The guys who made this policy thought "Everybody lives in a recognizable town, right? Just like you and me!". That's how they ended up in this mess. No need for conspiracy theories - just laziness and ignorance.

But it's sometimes much easier to climb up a tree than to get down. By adding Israel to Maaleh Adumim, or listing Efrat at all - they are making a political stance. I happen to know that it's a moral and legitimate one - but the last thing they wanted to do was to get into politics. So ever since then, they've been hemming and hawing. Most of their responses are as pareve as you can get - "Sorry, we'll try to fix the problem soon".

I got lucky, and pushed them to say that they got their list from the UN. Someone else got the response that it was from ISO.

I don't think the right response is to quit Facebook. You're a drop in the bucket to them, and it is still a very effective means of communication - a perfect example of this is the campaign to change the hometown listings! A better plan would be to continue to write to them, to insist they restore Efrat, Israel and the other towns. And when that happens - and I'm sure it will - we'll get some legitimacy from a pretty significant organization these days, and other companies will take a second thought before deciding our towns don't exist.

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Mar 16, 2008 8:47:13 PM

Did you make Ariella cancel her account? I like Facebook, because my daughters can't make a move on it without me knowing what they are up to.

Posted by: Baila | Mar 16, 2008 9:04:04 PM

I'm not certain if leaving Facebook is the right way to go. When I heard about this I chalked it up to either ignorance or political correctness run amok. What I know for certain is that millions of people use Facebook as a way to communicate. I think its better to be proactive. You should make your voice more heard and not less and we all know that you have a lot say.

Think about this as well, when I was still living in the states I worked for a pro-Israel group that used Facebook as a major tool to communicate with college and high school students. If pro-Israel voices aren't heard there it will mean we've surrendered another forum to those who will do everything they can to weaken Israel. I think you should start your own group there against this, and with your readership here it could really turn into something powerful.

Posted by: Jonah | Mar 16, 2008 10:23:50 PM

I've always thought Facebook was a waste of time and good sense. However I must confess that I have answered when a person or two asked me to be "their friend". How can I be erased from this website?

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Mar 16, 2008 10:44:03 PM

Read in The Jewish Chronicle:
"Whether or not he planned the attack, Abu Dheim has attained “hero” status on Facebook, the social-networking site. A new group has been set up to celebrate his “martyrdom”. Called “RIP Ala’a Abu Dheim”, the page carries a graphic picture of a dead student riddled with gunfire, captioned in Arabic “the heroic Jerusalem act”. "
Another reason to forget about Facebook altogether.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Mar 16, 2008 11:08:48 PM

Consider it done.

Posted by: QuietusLeo | Mar 17, 2008 12:16:00 PM

[ I went for Her Majesty the Queen in the end... ]

Posted by: David, UK | Mar 17, 2008 8:30:35 PM

Good news - Facebook is letting those in the settlements/communities beyond the "Green Line" declare their home country as being Israel. So you can rejoin!

Posted by: Raeefa | Mar 17, 2008 9:04:43 PM

balabusta in blue jeans... Not a thing other than all the people I know who use it are either gay or pre-teens.

Dave (Balashon)... Given that you can 'disable' your account and give a reason for it that they will see, I think it is perfectly appropriate. If they respond properly and have a reasonable explanation you can always reactivate your account with a click of your mouse.

Baila... I'm working up my nerve.

Jonah... Just because it is a useful tool does not mean it deserves your support and membership when the management turns mean or ugly. Also, see my response to Dave.

Ilana-Davita... I haven't found a way to be erased (apparently facebook is forever), but you can deactivate your account easily.

QuietusLeo... Good man.

David, UK... Out of respect I have edited my response. :-)

Raeefa... Bad news... 'letting me do something that the rest of the world takes for granted is not going to make me feel better. Also, while they have relisted most of the settlements as 'Israel' they also have each of them listed still as 'Palestine' which is puzzling since there is no such country.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 18, 2008 4:01:21 PM

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