Friday, September 7, 2007

On the drawing of lines

They invented this thing called www.facebook.com. They also invented this thing called breasts, and this other thing called babies. Then facebook said that women should not post pictures breast-feeding their babies.

As TechCrunch duly points out, it's hard to pin down what exactly is offensive and what isn't. That will depend on your upbringing, your friends, lifestyle, culture, religion, and so forth. So facebook seems to be really picking up a wrong fight here.

A comment in TechCrunch reads the classic cliché, the bureaucrat's grandest fantasy, word for word: “They do have to draw the line, though.”

This is last century's thinking. They don't have to draw the line, and shouldn't. It is a big mistake for Facebook to draw such lines, because now people will be “testing” the system to its limits.

What Facebook should do is CROWDSOURCE. Let the users draw the line. That is what web2.0 is all about, right? If Facebook starts to preach to people who they have to be, facebook can only go down in the long run, no matter how strong they might be now. They'll be picking up daily fights with, as The Economist once put it, both perverts and puritans (I wonder which group is worse--these are nasty people you really don't want to mess with; what they have in common is that they have nothing else to do but bring you down--hey, am I preaching or what?).

CROWDSOURCE THIS THING, folks. Just put a button: “Do you find this image offensive?”, then let people vote and let people take down the offensive ones. People should draw the line, not some random employee. Show the votes as they occur. Make it transparent.

I think I heard it somewhere: “don’t fight the internet”?

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