Comments Were Meant to Be Deleted

July 25th, 2016

I recently posted on Facebook:

“I do not like Donald Trump. If you do, we can be friends. But I don’t have to let you campaign for Trump on my Facebook page. He is reprehensible and a real threat to our nation’s future.

I don’t care if you disagree with my position. Please don’t post pro-Trump comments on my page. I will delete them.

Thank you.”

I wasn’t looking for support or bashing Trump. I was trying to let people know ahead of time I would delete their pro-Trump comments. I wanted them to understand my reasoning and not be too offended.

One response in particular was so provocative there wasn’t enough room to respond on Facebook, so I am responding here. Here’s what someone posted as a comment:

“I’m always a bit surprised that anyone on social thinks they “own their feed”. Not true on Facebook. Not true on twitter. Generally just not true.

You can help curate a feed through your preferences and who you “friend” – but you don’t own any feeds. Even if your name is on it, you do not own it (think – through what transaction did you purchase it?).

The platform owns the feeds. And because they do, you don’t pay a dime for the platform. But if you seriously think you “own” your feed, well. I hate to break it to you. Ya just kinda don’t.”

I can’t begin to articulate all the reasons I completely disagree with this, but here are a couple.

It’s overly simplistic to classify everything we come into contact with online as “a feed.” The whole idea of a feed can even be sinister and Orwellian, implying information that is fed to us, and which we receive passively and compliantly. This is not one of my primary objections to these claims, but I do find this notion greatly disconcerting.

In more practical terms, if we follow someone on Twitter, you could call that subscribing to their feed (and people commonly do). We see static tweets in a timeline and if we dislike them we can reply, retweet with a comment, block the person, unfollow them, or simply look away.

There are other places, however, where the metaphor is not so passive and the idea of a simple feed doesn’t work. I’ve been blogging for over 10 years. I’ve also managed corporate blogs and Facebook pages for some of the world’s largest companies. A blog or Facebook page absolutely is owned — editorially and morally — by the person or company who created it and maintains it. Whether you pay for the use of the platform is completely irrelevant to your responsibility for the content on it.

Nearly every commercial Facebook page, community, and blog on the planet moderates and deletes content that is offensive, uses copyrighted material for which no rights have been secured, harasses, or advocates illegal activity. And if you went to one of Microsoft’s Facebook pages would you expect to see racist comments or ads for sunglasses? No. Because Microsoft has an obligation to create a safe environment, and to protect people from these kinds of things. So they delete these comments freely. Even though Facebook “owns” the site.

I’m not Microsoft. I have a little more than 1000 friends on Facebook. They consist of family, friends, people I admire, students of the courses I’ve taught, people who have bought my book or attended one of my talks, colleagues, people I have connected with through the years, some people I don’t know at all, and even a couple of people who I friended or who friended me by accident. It’s an extended family and a kind of community.

What you post on your Facebook page is your business. If I’m bothered by it, I can ignore it, hide your posts or unfriend you. But my Facebook page is just that. Mine. Not by financial agreement but morally and ethically. I owe it to myself and my friends to keep it safe and civil. So yes, I do own it and I’ll continue to act like I do.


Sun CEO’s Blog Does the Time Warp

October 24th, 2009

Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz is unquestionably one of the best, and first, CEO bloggers in the world. He’s not only a pioneer, but an intelligent, articulate, engaging writer who sets a difficult standard for others to match. I was writing a column on CEO blogging this afternoon and noticed that Jonathan’s blog has not been updated since May 18 of this year.

As Jonathan writes on the blog, in the May 18 post:

“I recognize it’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog. For reasons why, just click here to read the background. And before you ask, SEC regulations and securities laws limit what I can discuss about the Oracle transaction, so don’t expect any insights on the topic.”

Oracle announced its intention to acquire Sun on April 20. Whenever companies are in this mode, strict SEC regulations govern all communications material to the deal, so silence is sometimes the best policy. It’s interesting that Jonathan was still active nearly a month after the announcement. Sun’s Twitter account linked to the blog was tweeting six-month old blog posts up until October 15.

I look forward to seeing Jonathan, one of the industry’s unique voices, blogging again.

Full Disclosure: I worked for Sun Microsystems for five years and knew Jonathan. I am a huge fan of the company.

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Trying to sort out this blogging thing

June 19th, 2008
Filed under: Blogging,Corporate Communications,Executive Blogs — joel @ 6:48 pm

What Kind of Blogger are You? is a thought provoking post from Leah McChesney that dovetails nicely with my recent post on the various kinds of corporate blog posts.

While I attempted to categorize types of blog posts, Leah does a nice job describing the varied and not always flattering kinds of bloggers out there, including:

  • the attention junkie/those who need an ego fixation
  • the lazy/undisciplined blogger
  • all over the place/depends on the blogger’s mood that day
  • antagonistic/this blogger is usually unforgiving and angry, usually tries to be persuasive
  • impulsive/is a serial blogger with abandoned blogs
  • story telling/often a deep thinker

Leah did a great job and unfortunately, I saw myself in far too many of her descriptions. For example, I’ve got a draft blog post titled “Confessions of a Serial Blogger” about all of my abandoned blogs. But I’m not an attention junkie. No way.

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What kinds of corporate blog posts are most effective?

June 12th, 2008
Filed under: Blogging,Corporate Communications,Executive Blogs — joel @ 8:15 am

How many “kinds” of blog posts are there, and which are the most effective and interesting in a corporate environment? Is it possible to categorize all blog posts this way?

I was working on a blogging training presentation for a corporate client last night, trying to answer these questions. Here’s what I came up with:

Experiential: The experiential post uses personal experience to tell a relevant story. It is distinct from the trivial post, which can also be a narrative, because the experiential element is a story telling technique, but the larger story in the post is relevant to the company’s business. An experiential post might be based on observations made at a conference, solving a customer problem onsite or by phone, or even of a longer term experience, such as bringing a product to market, or hiring a new management team. A well written experiential post can be interesting and engaging. I write speeches for executives, and have always found that personal anecdotes are extremely effective and credible in bringing the company’s products and services alive.

Trivial: A trivial post is an off-topic post about personal experiences such as travel, or the purchase of the latest consumer electronics gadget. These do not generally relate to the business, but they can be useful in helping the blogger connect with his or her audience through shared experiences. The typical trivial post covers things like “should I get one of the new iPhones?” and “the cable company made me wait four hours.” From an emotional standpoint, the biggest byproduct of Web 2.0 is that people are empowered to whine and complain about things frustrate them, and this is often the kind of content found in a trivial post. While it does create a bond between the blogger and readers of the blog, it can become tiresome, and may reflect poorly on the executive’s public persona.

Strategic: An executive blog is perfect for communicating strategic information, such as quarterly results, a product announcement, a launch, or the goings-on at a major company event. Strategic posts are “deliberate,” that is they are designed and timed and not spontaneous. In a large company they are likely to be group efforts (despite all the hoopla about authenticity) in order to align with approved messaging and comply with financial disclosure requirements and other regulations. (Don’t let any CEO of a large company tell you that he or she does these posts solo. It just doesn’t happen that way.)

These tend to be important, particularly in terms of offering blog visitors something to comment on, but are not as interesting or effective as experiential or analytical posts.

Analytical: An analytical post offers an in depth discussion of a particular technology, industry trend, socioeconomic situation, business strategy or other topic. These posts are most like traditional print commentary in that they involve research, and while espousing the blogger’s point of view, should show balance and quote credible third party sources. A well written analytical post is great for “selling” the company’s strategy, or helping explain why the company chose a certain approach to a product or service. This kind of post also helps the executive be seen as engaged and knowledgeable about things that go on outside the four walls of the company.

Responsive: The responsive post is generally a rebuttal or reaction to another blog or a column. It isn’t really an altogether different post category, but since it is a response, the structure and the tone are unique. It can have many or all the elements of the analytical post. The responsive post may be driven, for example, by the need to get the company’s point of view into the conversation in reaction to a highly critical post, or to make people aware of a highly complimentary post. It’s also useful for generating topics when you’re not sure what to blog about, but when instead of reacting, you “blog first,” you start the conversation and you control the agenda. By starting the conversation, you better demonstrate originality, and the courage of your convictions, instead of taking a reactionary, and often defensive stance.

TOH Link: Many bloggers like to publish favorite links with little or no commentary and some even maintain separate link blogs for this purpose. The Tip-Of-the-Hat link post is the little brother to the responsive post. It is often just a few sentences long, and may start “great post by Dave on why social media is like the Peloponnesian War…” with a link to the post. Without at least a few lines on why Dave’s post is so great, and a few reactions or contributions that expand the conversation, these kinds of posts are of little utility in a corporate environment.

Educational: The educational post is often Web 1.0 content in disguise, but if the blogger is knowledgeable about the topic and involved in writing the post, it can be effective. These often have titles like “Top 10 Strategies for Long Term Data Archiving,” or “Popular Models for Utility Computing.” (You can see from all of the hypotheticals in this piece that I have spent WAY too much time in IT.) A former Google engineer told me that the Google algorithm loves numbered lists. This kind of post also has the potential to bore readers and evoke cries of “marketing hype.”

Crisis: The crisis post is a special case and difficult to critique in this framework. These are an unusual kind of responsive post in that they are based on reactions to events, announcements and other critical situations that may seriously affect the company’s reputation and its financial health. This type of post doesn’t really fit in this discussion, because it’s not something you make a strategic choice about. My advice: try not to have crises. If you do, post as soon as you can, briefly and honestly.

There are no doubt 100 varieties of blog posts that I haven’t covered here, but I thought I’d share this in case you find it useful. I’ve used similar explanations to help new bloggers answer the question, “what should I blog about and what tone should I use?”


That’s not a blog. THIS is a blog: Greenland Crossing 2008

May 15th, 2008
Filed under: Corporate Communications,Executive Blogs,Social Media — joel @ 3:28 pm

With all of the blog posts dedicated to how to pitch a blogger, or examining the profound social implications of Twitter (guilty here), it was refreshing to come across Greenland Crossing 2008, a blog that superbly embodies the original spirit of blogging, the proverbial “web log.”

Greenland Crossing documents the trek made this year by Harald Fuchs, a senior IBM Global Services executive based in Germany, and Andre Felbrich, a photographer and founder of Photo-Druck, a successful digital photo printing venture, across Greenland.

Adam C. Christensen, who does social media communications for IBM, helps maintain the blog. He told me it is an unofficial but sanctioned “side project” for him. Maybe it is the blog’s semi-official status, and its lack of direct ties to any specific corporate initiative, that allow Harald, an IBM executive, to come through as an adventurer and a leader with something truly interesting to say.

IBM executive or Greenland explorer?

Give the blog a read and listen to the podcasts, such as this explanation of the difference between an ice cap and an ice sheet. As Adam says, “I get cold just listening to the podcasts.”

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