I have a problem with the way News24 requires a link with a Facebook account to enable comments.
I do understand the reasoning behind this: people should not be allowed to say whatever they want without accountability. The problem with requiring a Facebook profile is that it makes life harder for honest people while making no real difference for those who want to cause trouble. This post comes from a fictional Facebook account to make the point.
The issue of freedom of speech is especially topical at the moment in South Africa. Many believe that the internet is the final line of defence for freedom of speech. My view is that, unless someone's life is in immediate danger, the freedom to say what you want should take precedence over accountability.
This does not mean I condone the hurtful, harmful comments that some people choose to make in any way. But I would rather let them comment what they like without knowing where they live on Facebook. I can simply choose not to read.
I do have my own Facebook account but I do not subscribe to the idea that every person who reads my comments on News24 should be permitted to link directly to my Facebook profile. Call it respect for privacy, if there is such a thing online. If this were a physical discussion forum I would not want every person who heard me to have access to my photos, list of friends and my religious views.
Of course I could now go to Facebook and lock down my account super-tight, but if I'm going to do that it's just easier not to comment.
What is more, if you log out of the News24 app you sommer get logged out of Facebook too. Who wrote this thing?? You need some technical know-how if you ever need to sever the Facebook-News24 link. And the app refuses to work unless you permit it to post on Facebook on your behalf. So, if I get this right, in order to say anything on News24 I have to give an app, which I have no control over, permission to post what it wants in my name. I don't think so!
Maybe this is an interesting filter that the News24 team have unwittingly created. In order to post on here you have to subscribe to the idea that acountability is more important than freedom of speech. If anyone wants the Protection of Information Bill to become law they must love this kind of thinking...
I really hope the News24 team will consider reviewing their policy on this. It really hurts more than it helps. There are some very important conversations happening on News24 and I applaud the freedom of speech that the site normally propagates. But I'm worried that there might be others who, like me, just won't bother to comment anymore. But you'll never hear from them, so you will never know.
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.