NymWars Gone To The Dogs

Engraving of Ambient Occlusion and Depth of Field
I’m not real enough for Facebook. But dogs are!

While I was drooling about Linden Lab’s latest developments — which will be covered on a subsequent article — I got an email by Online Media Daily Europe about an article featured on Red Rocket Media announcing that a lot of UK Facebook accounts were actually held by… dogs. In fact, 7% of the dog population in the UK has their own Facebook account.

The London Evening Standard and the IT Pro Portal also cover the same story. They show how “DogBook” or “FaceDog” is so popular, that Top Dogs get millions of Likes, and, as such, are great for marketeers to target ads. (Cats are, of course, featured on LolCats and perhaps that’s why they aren’t so popular on Facebook) The journalists think this to be a great idea.

But I’m envious of all those dogs. Although I’m a human being, although I have written for leading UK publications like The Guardian, although I’ve been quoted on books (both non-fiction and academic literature), well, I’ve been kicked out of Facebook and I’m not allowed on Google+. In spite of being a perfectly normal human being, I’m excluded from social media. Why? Because I refuse to post a real life picture of myself on Facebook/Google+.

Dogs violate other Facebook Terms of Service. Although knowing how to type is not a requirement for being a Facebook user (the ToS doesn’t discriminate against analphabets), they’re under the legal age for being a valid Facebook user. The minimum age is not species-specific; Facebook doesn’t restrict it to Earth years, either. Dogs, furthermore, share their passwords with their owners, which is also not allowed. Many go by their nicknames. All these are clear ToS violations. The only thing they’re not violating is that they have, indeed, their real life picture on Facebook. A picture that is venerated and adored by millions of users.

Well, this seems to me to be most unfair. Again, I have nothing against dogs. They’re lovely, wonderful, fluffy creatures. They’re sentient beings like I am; they all want to be happy and avoid suffering, like I do. They love warm and cozy places and adore their food, like I do. So I feel a strong empathy with them. I think it’s wonderful that Facebook doesn’t discriminate against species. It’s very forward-thinking of them, and I compliment their decision (which, as a side-effect, earns them more money — a win-win situation!).

However, I feel discriminated. Putting dogs side-by-side with humans is ok. Discriminating humans because they don’t want to have their real life data on Facebook is not ok. Nevertheless, people do that all the time. They put roses and trees on their profiles, to avoid being stalked. They put creepy pictures of themselves when they were 2 or 8 years old — which also goes against the ToS, but Facebook doesn’t really care. They photoshop their pictures to look completely different and thus avoid being recognised. All that is accepted.

Having a pseudonym is not.

Copyright Image from New Yorker cartoon by Peter Steiner. Source: Wikipedia

On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. But if you actually are a dog, you can create a valid Facebook account. Some humans cannot.

I wish I were a dog.

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