UNTIL reading a column just now, I’d never considered that Facebook staff vet the news. But apparently a story about right-wing websites being weeded out from trending news on the site was soon making news itself.
Here are two stories I spotted on Facebook this morning; there is no connection apart from the proximity of one to the other; and the fact that each involves a petition.
First up was a story shared by someone I know about another of those petitions calling on the BBC to sack political editor Laura Kuenssberg. Once again, supporters of Jeremy Corbyn are protesting about biased reporting of the Labour party – and complaining that their blessed leader is being treated unfairly.
Now I quite like Jeremy Corbyn but he doesn’t set me alight the way he does his keenest supporters. And I think the efforts of the Corbyn badge-wearers to spin the local election results as a great success are patently ridiculous. Combined with a splendid showing in London and a dreadful rout in Scotland, the local results were a mixed bag for Labour – and for all parties, with plenty of room for argument and interpretation.
On the BBC, that difficult job falls to Laura Kuenssberg, the Corporation’s first female political editor. And she has become an unhealthy obsession for plenty of Corbyn supporters, some of whom might well read this through Facebook and disagree with my thoughts here.
The story I saw first was a report in the Guardian on this latest petition, as shared on Facebook; next I read a follow-up report on the same site saying that campaign group 38 degrees had taken down the petition as it had become a focal point for misogynist abuse.
Many of those who signed were merely having their usual drone of a moan, but others were using abusive and sexist language about Kuenssberg.
I know the Corbyn loyalists will disagree, but Kuenssberg is a journalist doing a job and she should be allowed to get on with it; and I would think the same if the abuse was coming from right-wingers moaning that dear David was getting a rough ride from Laura.
And for Kuenssberg to receive an extra layering of sexist abuse is just disgraceful, isn’t it? I seem to recall that Jeremy Corbyn wanted a kinder sort of politics; perhaps he should remind some of his supporters of this.
Now the other story is just ridiculous, and a little unsavoury perhaps, but here goes. A petition in the US is taking the pro-life argument to a new level, with those signing calling for ejaculation to be made illegal. “Ejaculation is murder” say the placards.
“God made men’s semen for a purpose,” a spokeswoman says on the website where I saw this.
If this petition isn’t one big joke, and that is hard to determine online sometimes, then there are some interesting ramifications here, not least what exactly the role of the state would be in enforcing such a law. Will spotlights pierce through curtained windows; will FBI self-harm agents burst through bedroom doors, handcuffs and a slap at the ready?
As for Facebook, the site seems to have become the modern equivalent of those scruffy old news vendors who used to shout themselves hoarse on street corners.
“Read all about it” – from snaps of a friend’s garden, to international news and comment, and back to some bloke’s pictures of freshly baked bread (guilty on all floury counts).
As the newspaper people used to say, all human life is there, including sexist rants from people who should know better.