Thursday, March 05, 2009

This one goes to 11

Going into today, it had been fully six months since the Washington Post put a Facebook story on the front page, a stunning and hope-inducing gap that suggested the bad-old-days were over. In those days, the Post published 10 front page stories on Facebook in two years. Then the gap began, just days after a new Executive Editor, Marcus Brauchli, began his job in September.

That all came to an end this morning, with "Offbeat Name? Then Facebook's No Friend" by Style section writer Monica Hesse.

Hesse has had two previous pieces focusing on Facebook, both inside the Style section: a December 2007 piece about academics studying Facebook. and an August 2007 think piece on Facebook and what it means for networking, or something (ok, I just skimmed it). But this marks her entry to the, uh, not-so-exclusive club of A1 Facebook byliners.

Today's piece is an amusing look at people who have unusual names, such as Caitlin Batman Shaw, and how Facebook rejects them. They have to complain to Facebook, sometimes repeatedly, and submit identification to eventually be allowed in. The piece says Facebook's rejection of them is about more than just an inconvenience:
People like them have endured decades of name-related annoyance (No, clever sir. No one else has ever suggested that it would be funny if my first name were Five. You are a genius.) Perhaps they experienced childhood ostracism or contemplated name changes. And when they accepted their own quirky identity -- to share it with the world and connect via Facebook like 175 million other people -- they were prevented from joining the virtual sandbox. Grade school all over again.

Say what you will; I found it all sort of amusing, I'll admit. But is it worthy of A1? Absolutely not. Inside the same edition, there's plenty of important news, such as: the Supreme Court's ruling in Wyeth v. Levine, perhaps one of the more important decisions of the session; a deal between Karl Rove, Harriet Miers, the Obama Administration and the House Judiciary Committee on their testifying before that committee regarding Bush Administration firings of U.S. Attorneys; and Hillary Clinton's "rare public complaint" to Israel for bulldozing Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. And that's not to mention that we're in a bit of an economic crisis, we have a couple major wars we're in, and there's that thing called global warming, which I do think is sort of important.

So what's the deal, Marcus? I had such high hopes. I felt like I was really starting to trust you on this. Why'd you do it?


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