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August 30, 2009


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Andy Havens

My favorite line: "He says, not entirely in jest, that he considers it a repressive regime akin to North Korea."

Mmmm... Right. At that point, the article turned into, "Whatever" for me.

I know people who quit Facebook after playing around with it for two months. I know others who joined and still use it once or twice a month to stay in touch with a few people. I know other people who are on it all the damned time.

This must mean (dum-dum-DUHM!) that Facebook users are... (gasp) heterogeneous!

It's just a lazy article.


When Mom and Dad join Facebook it's just not so cool anymore... LOL


How many trees died for this exercise in narcissism to appear in print? How many brave little soybeans gave up their ink?

Oh the botany!

Michael W. Perry

Ah, but don't you know that the Grey Lady and the various circles of friends immediately around her are the world, or at least the part of it that matters.. They represent Fashion and Truth. What they're doing now, but must be doing in a few years. What they think now, we must think.

And if we don't, they'll soon be saying nasty things about us: "Why do millions of people believe, what no one believes any more."

Maybe because we think for ourselves and are perfectly capable of running our lives without their assistance.


I wonder if more people are cancelling their subscriptions to the New York Times than are leaving Facebook.

That would be an interesting chart.

(the author reminds me of the Kevin Bacon character in Animal House)


The ironic thing is that few people will even see her article unless it's promoted on Facebook.


"The New York Times feels so dead.

I asked a lot of my friends, and nobody reads it anymore. It's a dinosaur.

Bonus: It's true, as evidenced by their continually falling numbers of audited subscribers.

Is the New York Times doomed to someday become an online ghost town, run by zombie editors who never edit their stories and packs of marketers picking at the corpses of readers they once hoped to exploit?

It may be fated."

There ... I'm a journalist now!



Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded.


They've got to kill it because Sarah makes it work.


Sorry clarkhoyt, your reference to fact, ie actual declining readership of the nyt, automatically disqualifies you from reporting. Facts only get in the way. Stick to interviewing people about how they feel. Find and report on consensus. It means everything to anybody that is anything, don't you know. Asking your friends at the coffee shop about their feelings will suffice, too. OrWho is John Galt?just ask a question on your status bar in facebook. Just make sure you exclude the opinions of Christians, Republicans, Red Staters, nutters, tea baggers, and all the other haters....they don't count, unless your are talking about how crazy they are, then they count a lot.


I don't think you are missing the bigger picture here.

Facebook is one of the primary means by which the Tree Party movement is organized. Poll questions at Facebook suggest that Facebook is not nearly as liberal as most online web communities. Hense, Facebook is bad. Hense, the media must begin a camapaign to make Facebook uncool - "The hip people no longer hang out at Facebook".

Pat Patterson

Tom-Only if her bio page shows her wearing a cardigan and a dickie! There, I've dated myself irretrievably.


I've also noticed print journalists try to make the net seem scary and dangerous. For instance lots of stories about bad things that happened to people after using craigslist (which denies newspapers revenue). Did nothing bad ever happen to someone by using a newspaper classified? Of course it did. But no articles about that. Ron Rosenbaum in particular seems hysterically obsessed with craigslist.


Doesn't Sarah Palin have more facebook fans than the NYT has subscribers? Kudos to Saracuda, brave enough to tame the monster while the journalistas hide behind their (dead) tree...


So, the article basically states that no one goes to Facebook anymore because it's too popular?


Totally anecdotal, but as some of my friends leave Facebook back to the safety of listservs, the reasons I get to my question of "Why?" all have to do with privacy.

For example, you can now have "Lists" of people, so you can keep a work list, a high school list, a college list, etc. But there's no partitioning to keep any of the lists apart. What this means is that when you update your status to "have a massive hangover from the beer bong bash, can't even think," there's no way for you to keep this update from being seen from your "work" friends. And then there's nothing to stop your "high school" friends from posting material that you don't want your "family" to see.

I think that is what is causing the decline in Facebook. It's fine for the highschool and young adult set, as there isn't a need for partitioning there, but for my friends back on their ancient listservs, they're all waiting for the next facebook that will provide true selectable privacy options.


Pure coincidence but I killed my FB account last night after a couple years of maintaining it. I didn't think long about it - I just did it, after considering how much time I waste on it. And yes, the privacy issue entered into it too - I decided I preferred my anonymity to the communication convenience.

I think the author of the NYT article stumbled on something quite accidentally, or anecdotally, if that's a word. Because of Twitter and other considerations, like the politics of FB's founder, I expect to see new membership flatten out and start to decline within a year from now. Of course, that may be due to the increased mortality rate of H1N1 amongst the largest FB demographic.



I've been a longtime user of LiveJournal and have generally eschewed Facebook for the exact reason you state: that there's no partitioning between your various friend lists. LiveJournal has had that ability since the beginning -- or at least the last seven years that I've been using it.

LJ not only offers security levels which allow you to have public, friends only, and private entries; it also allow access only to certain friends and not others. (The exact problem one of the unnamed "friends" in the article mentioned which led him to leave Facebook.)

Moreover, LJ has always been a writer/blogger friendly site where you can read through a user's back entries in a linear way, or even by theme. You can write extremely long entries (I've posted entire chapters in a single entry), and by utilizing a cut tag, most of the post can be hidden from view, requiring your friends to click the link to read the post in its entirety.

Finally, LJ has incorporated much of the same social networking functionality that MySpace and Facebook have, without giving up the blogger side of the equation. And, if all that weren't enough, it's a whole lot more user-friendly than any other blogging/social networking site I've ever used.

It strck me as I was reading the NYT article that the trouble many of those drama-queens in the artice were having with Facebook were the result of them misusing or misunderstanding the service -- not understanding its strengths and weaknesses, and therefore trying to use it in ways it wasn't built to serve.


Just to clarify, Virginia Heffernan is not a news reporter, she's a columnist, and referring to a column as an "article" could mislead some readers. Columns often draw on personal experience, and that's fine as long as they identify their sources as personal.


"It's just a lazy article."

Sort of -- yeah, it does not say anything particularly deep or informative. I think, however, that this is representative of a type of journalism that I would call conversational journalism. It is a bit like office chit-chat. It's not intended to be serious or insightful journalism. Someone makes an observation and the rest of us respond by thinking about our own views on the topic. We agree, or disagree -- it's social. Conversational journalism puts an idea ball in the air and we volley it back and forth. Now maybe journalism should not include this type of fluffy stuff, but people who are half-bored will read it, maybe think about it, maybe investigate further. Weekend newspapers are full of this type of thing. Mostly I don't bother reading. The other thing, though, is that it turns a topic into a public question. This can sometimes be useful.

Bryan Alexander

Nice catches with still more flaws, @Andy Havens.

Thanks for the fine satire, @arminius, @clarkhoyt.

Well said re: Livejournal vs Facebook, @hiddendreams. You remind me of what one friend snarled last year: "Facebook is social media for people who don't have content."

Linda, I have to disagree. First, if the article is merely a column, it shouldn't be exempted from basic fact-checking. Second, if it's purely a personal view, then it should be expressed as such, and not use the objective statement "Facebook exodus." Third, because it's the New York Times, it's taken seriously; I've also had several academics ask me what I think about the Facebook exodus (which isn't happening).

Is the article something like a troll, then @LindaL?

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