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Reaction to our change to Facebook commenting

by Alan Herzberger Modified: April 18, 2013 at 1:37 pm •  Published: December 28, 2012

I posted a few weeks ago about our switch to Facebook commenting on NewsOK.com articles.

Using Facebook commenting is not new to us. We’ve used it on select stories and pages for a couple of years. We used it when we launched the LOOKatOKC website. We used it when we launched the Oklahoman.com website. And we used it when we launched our NewsOK Photos upgrade.

But now it’s on every NewsOK.com article.

The response has been mixed. The general tone of responses on my blog, on the articles and on Twitter has been positive. I won’t share all those. They just praise us too much. It’s embarrassing.

But the dozen or so users who took the time to email me have expressed general displeasure with the change.

Here are some excerpts from some of the emails:

This person doesn’t like Facebook in general …

As one who refuses to participate in the marketing and personal information selling website called facebook, I am certainly questioning why you are doing this. I know I will spend a lot less time on your website as I imagine a lot of others will as well. Seems like a perfect example of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

This person doesn’t want to use Facebook either …

I don’t use Facebook because the guy at the computer store told me that is one of the best ways to get malware on my computer. There should be other options for leaving a comment.

This person considered it a freedom of press issue …

There are ways other than using Facebook membership as a screen to ensure that posters exercise the responsibility required to participate in public discourse. I have never even so much as looked at a Facebook page. I have no intention of doing so. Facebook is a commercial enterprise that I do not wish to participate in. You are requiring participation in one medium in order to participate in yours. That decries the principles of free speech and a free press.

But my favorite conversation happened yesterday over the phone with a longtime subscriber of The Oklahoman who also reads a lot of our stories on NewsOK.com. She told me that she can’t see how to reply to comments anymore — that it says she has to use Facebook. And, as she put it …

“I’m not going to use Facebook.”

(said in a tone that made me think it was going to be a rough conversation)

As I explained our reasoning and our recent change, she admitted that it makes a lot of sense — that a lot of people making the comments on our site were just “crappy.” She even stopped participating in the comments a couple years ago because they were “so crappy.”

But she wanted to comment yesterday … that’s when she saw the change to Facebook, and that’s why she called.

In the end, she said she was glad she talked to me. She said that she was kind of mad she couldn’t comment, but now she’s fine with it. She’s still not going to use Facebook (or Twitter for that matter), but she thinks it was a good decision. Her official statement:

I agree that it is a good change, even though I will not be participating in comments because I refuse to sign up with Facebook or Twitter. Email is sufficient for my needs. I truly appreciate that my concerns were considered and why this change has been instituted. I will continue to read the print Oklahoman and the digital Oklahoman even though I will not interject my opinions.

So there it is. The decision to move to Facebook commenting is safe for another while.

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by Alan Herzberger
Digital Managing Editor
Alan Herzberger is the Digital Managing Editor for NewsOK.com and The Oklahoman. He focuses on content within OPUBCO Communications Group’s variety of digital products. He’s been with The Oklahoman since 1997, when he joined the sports...
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