Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Mail's war on Facebook continues

In March, the Mail came unstuck when it tried to blame Facebook for something that actually happened on another chat site. Facebook flexed its muscles and the paper quickly apologised.

But that hasn't meant any end to the Mail's war on Facebook. Far from it. Indeed, recently there's been a story every day or two which has centred on the social networking site, very often erroneously.

On 6 April, the Mail was trying to pin another murder on Facebook.

Murder quiz boyfriend 'met schoolgirl knife victim on Facebook' covered the death of Aliza Mirza and focused more on the social networking site than the coverage in other places, where it was hardly mentioned (exception: the Telegraph).

A few days before that: Facebook's wrecking my daughter's future, which has been written about at Angry Mob. In this article, writer Simon Mills told how he'd bought a laptop, iPhone and £250 iTunes account for his 15-year-old daughter and complained about how she then spent a lot of time on her computer.

Oh, and she spent a lot of time in her room, replying to parental concern with monosyllabic answers. Which teenagers never did before Facebook, obviously.

On 2 April, the Mail came up with Number of crimes involving Facebook 'leaps 346% in a year' which was about as truthful as the 'Facebook causes syphillis' one. As Anton revealed, the headline should have said:

reports of crimes allegedly involving Facebook in Nottinghamshire.

Because that was what it was really about. And the number of people actually charged was six. Up from three.

DS Parsonage said:

'For crime that involves communication, Facebook is just a method of communication. Essentially Facebook is no different from any other part of the internet.'

That's not what the Mail wants to hear. And presumably that means where people used to harrass people with nuisance phone calls and poison letters, now they use social networking sites as well/instead. But that can't be right, as Facebook invented all these social problems.

It gets worse:

DS Parsonage said: 'We don't know what part Facebook played in each offence. All we know is at some point within each crime there is some mention of Facebook.'

Oh. A spokeswoman for Facebook added the stats:

did not specify how Facebook featured in the crimes, including whether Facebook aided investigations or if the police received help from the company in securing a conviction.

So Facebook might help fight crime? No, that can't possibly be right either...

Because as the Mail reported the day before that: Jealous ex-boyfriend executed mother and daughter, 4, after discovering Facebook romance.

The first line:

A secret affair started on Facebook may have provoked a shooting which left three people dead

Only 'may have'? Hmm. Later in the article, the woman's boyfriend says that the killer had a history of violence, but the Mail thinks Facebook's more relevant to the killings than that.

The day before: Jail for teenage girl who posed with machine gun on Facebook as she fulfilled her dream of being a gangster's moll.

Amy Goodman was jailed for three years for the illegal possession of a gun and ammunition. The pictures on Facebook actually helped prove the case against her. But the article also says:

Goodman, from Urmston, had been friends with gangster Daniel Brown, 21, and regularly communicated on MySpace with a senior thug in the Lostock Crew.

Yet there's no mention of the Murdoch-owned MySpace in the headline.

In Schoolboy stabbed at Victoria station in 'pre-arranged fight' had been watched by Chelsea scouts on 28 March, the Mail said:

Friends of Sofyen, who was of Moroccan origin, said the fight could have been arranged on social networking sites such as Facebook.

Later it also mentions it might have been MSN.

Also towards the end of March, Janet Street-Porter weighed in, referring to Facebook as:

harmful, if not deadly.

The Mail added a headline about Facebook being a:

toxic addiction

a phrase she never actually uses.

But she does use this piece of hyperbole:

Going online to chat is like taking crack. It's so addictive, you soon find yourself constantly tweeting, texting, messaging, emailing. Mostly harmless bilge, but for vulnerable teenagers it's a drug that can end in death.

The day before that nonsense, Teenage girl missing after going to meet a man she had fallen for on Facebook. At the end of the article:

Police are exploring 'the possibility that Demi had met with someone she's met on the internet'. A spokesman said she had communicated with Sefa through Facebook and MSN chat.

So it may not be anything to do with Facebook or the internet, then?

And curiously, the Mail didn't see fit to mention that Demi was found two days later.

A few days before that was the pathetic syphillis story and some claims about Facebook breaching privacy rules.

Just prior to those two, the Mail dreamt up How posting holiday details on Facebook could push up your home insurance premiums.

It's one that you know is rubbish before you even read it. As someone who has recently taken out a new home insurance policy, I can categorically say none of the forms asked if I was on Facebook.

The language was telling:

Householders are facing... Insurers are now looking to...

And then the killer quote, from an insurance 'expert':

'Insurance providers are seriously thinking of taking this into account when they are assessing claims and we may in future see insurers declining claims if they believe the customer was negligent'.

In the comments, Matt from Dunstable dismisses this as 'typical Daily Mail scaremongering'.

The Mail? Scaremongering about Facebook?

Surely not...


  1. "At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, Goodman, wept as she appeared with another girl of 17 and two cousins from the South Manchester-based Lostock Crew, which has brought misery to the suburbs of Flixton and Urmston."

    Living in Flixton, I can safely say that no misery was brought about by anyone.

    Quite exciting to get a mention in the Daily Mail though!

  2. Just been reading through the archives and found this page. The article written by Simon Mills about FB wrecking his daughters future has been taken down. I wonder if the Fail got in trouble for this one?


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