Tuesday, October 04, 2011

OC Register To Require Facebook ID For Commenters

Today the editor of the Orange County Register, Ken Brusic, announced that, as of this Thursday, folks attempting to post comments on Register articles will be required to have a Facebook identity. You can read Brusic's piece HERE.

In my opinion, this is a HU
GE step for the Register to take. I've commented from time to time that the comment threads on Register articles became almost unreadable because of the nature of way, way too many of those comments. They ranged from relevant, well-composed thoughtful pieces to the rantings from the lunatic fringe. Before the editors assigned folks to monitor them full time there had been threats, foul language - you name it - none of which contributed to the expansion of the discussion of important issues.

I had, long ago, given up attempting to read the Register comment threads for the reasons stated above. It just wasn't worth my time to try to sift through all the crap that was posted to find the pearls of wisdom that certainly existed. This situation is the result of permitting more lax standards for publishing comments on line than are permitted in letters to the editor.

As you regular - and irregular - readers know, my preference is for you to post using
your own name. Most of you refuse to do so, choosing, instead, a creative pen name - or pen names. I've refused to permit the use of the name "Anonymous" - to avoid a comment thread with several people using that name and creating confusion to those who actually try to make sense of the threads here. And, as will apparently always be the case, some of you attempt to find ways to abuse this system.


monitor and personally decide which comments will be posted. I cannot "modify" the comments or otherwise edit them. I can only decide "yes" or "no". So, if you present a wonderful, cogent comment for others to consider here and find it necessary to top it off with a foul comment the whole thing will be rejected. That's the way it is.

I know that many of you don't agree with the opinions I present for your c
onsideration. That's fine. I will present opposing viewpoints unless they violate my rules. Those who have been here awhile know that to be a fact. I do the best I can to present both sides of an issue, and will continue to do so.

So, let's try to move forward by maintaining civility and present your best "facts" and your best argument to support them. But please do not try to treat this venue like a locker room - leave your excremental expostulations elsewhere. Most of you are way, way too smart to need to use foul language to make your points. Those that simply can't meet that minimal standard will simply have to find somewhere else to post.

So, what's your opinion about the Orange County Register's decision? Do you think it will do significant harm to their operations? Do you think it will improve the comment threads? I'm interested in your views...

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Blogger Joe said...

I think the new policy will improve the threads. Many of the comments are sick, racist, etc. That isn't free speech.

The "Facebook Requirement" is goofy though. What's next- You'll have to have a "Facebook Identity" to be able to get a driver's license, passport, or open a bank account?

10/04/2011 11:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Re Facebook said...

I consider Facebook to be dangerous and a complete waste of time. I closed my account about a month ago. Other people are doing the same.

Residents were far more sociable and friendly before all the electronic media came about. In other words, life was a lot more pleasant before computers.

Personally, I think both the Register and the Pilot should simply drop the comments section of their online papers. The sickos will find a way around the Facebook requirement in no time.

10/04/2011 11:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Daisy Mae said...

I understand the Register's point. There are some pretty vile people that post mostly on the OC Watchdog that don't follow the Register's written protocol about comments. It is easy however to set up a fake Facebook profile with a fake name in order to post anonymously. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

10/04/2011 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Feedback said...

Geoff, you have a good blog, but please don't take the high road. You complain about the "excrement" on the Register site - with good reason - but you often write the same way without the foul language. You want things to be more civil, but you constantly belittle people and call them names. And in many cases if anyone disagrees with you, you get personal. It's your blog, yes, but that's what I see when I read it. If you want things to change, let it start with you. Aside from all that, thanks for the work you do to keep us informed.

10/04/2011 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

I hear you and wondered, as I wrote this entry, how long it would be for someone to call me on it. I don't intend to stop pointing out the foibles of those theoretically in place to serve us. I don't believe I've used the kind of coarse language to which I, and you, referred. I'm critical of folks - and they of me. I understand that criticism comes with the territory and, as you know, don't fail to publish it - unless it crosses that line.
Please feel free to let me know when you think I have crossed it. Thanks for reading and for your frank observation.

10/04/2011 04:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Karen S. said...

I think it is about time people are held accountable for their postings. The framers of our constitution did not have blogs in mind when they wrote the 1st Amendment. Hiding behind pseudo-names while destroying someone's reputation or character is not the best example of free speech.

Using FB is one way to curb the libelous comments and I only hope the Daily Pilot also follows this lead. This medium has been abused for far too long.

I would be even happier if ALL the blogs were eliminated including this one. But wait, what would I do with my time?

10/04/2011 09:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Freebird said...

Wow Karen, I guess free speech doesn't mean much to you. I think the framers of the constitution would be be proud that a major provision of the constitution is still protected. If you have time, go read some of the political commentary and cartoons of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Pretty strong comments were issued on both sides of any major issue. Read some of the comments against Abraham Lincoln. Even those in his own party had some choice words against him. The Register opened themselves up to nasty comments especially with that OC Watchdog. The beauty is that you can choose what you read and how you want to respond. If you don't like what Geoff writes then don't read his blog. Simple as that. You choose to come here and there must be a reason why you do.

10/05/2011 08:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

"Free speech" never meant unfettered or irresponsible speech, and was not meant to absolve people of the consequences of their words. So, when those who post in violation of a rule, they should be prepared to accept the consequences. Good for the OC Register and for you.

10/05/2011 08:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Karen S. said...

Hey Firebird,

The difference between now and then is in the past you knew who was doing the attacking be it an artist or newspaper.

For all any knows, you may reside in a cave in Afghanistan sitting around a fire pit eating dead bats attacking anyone that disagrees with you.

10/05/2011 09:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Gary Craig, CPA said...

Absolutely not accurate. Even in the colonial times, a nom de plume was very common, as the consequences for speach were quite extreme. Paine Jefferson, Twain (a pseudonum), etc.

There is a reason the comments section in newspapers is called the "swamp" (stinky and at the bottom), and I do not think that corporatizing the swamp will turn it into a wetland.

10/05/2011 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

On Anonimity...

From: McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm'n, 514 U.S. 334 (1995)

JUSTICE THOMAS, concurring in the judgment.

I agree with the majority's conclusion that Ohio's election law, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 3599.09(A), is inconsistent with the First Amendment. I would apply, however, a different methodology to this case. Instead of asking whether "an honorable tradition" of anonymous speech has existed throughout American history, or what the "value" of anonymous speech might be, we should determine whether the phrase "freedom of speech, or of the press," as originally understood, protected anonymous political leafletting. I believe that it did.

I personally believe that taking responsibility for your words and actions leads to a more civil society. However, some would say that by removing anonymity from our culture you increase repression.

If we were in Iran or China and wanted to speak out against the ruling regime, our life may certainly depend on anonymity. Not so much here in Costa Mesa.

10/05/2011 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Bruce Krochman,
Well said, as always. Here in Costa Mesa the price of speaking out, as has been shown for months, is public ridicule by leaders on the dais. The four guys on the dais take an opposing view as a personal attack and just can't wait to spit back. They're all guilty of it, but Mensinger is the worst, by far. I guess that's what it's like when you're a bully.

10/05/2011 10:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Karen S. said...

I am not going to say the internet is a bad thing; in fact it is a fantastic thing that has changed all our lives. But like everything out there, good things can be used in bad ways. Same is true for blogs. I often use them as a source of technical information. I could not do my job without it. But here is the problem. Whether we like or not, we now live in a world where anybody can write something good or bad about anyone. The content of those writings may be factual or may be fiction, but the end result is people can be harmed financially, socially, personally and in many untold ways. On top of that the victim does not have the luxury of confronting the attacker. It is all so easy now. With a few clicks on a keyboard I can sabotage a business, implicate someone in a crime, accuse someone of infidelity, etc, etc. It is then up to the victim to clear his/her name. If you say it long enough and get others to say it also, then it becomes assumed to be truth. On top of all this, it is not just a local attack; it is instantly available to the entire planet to see.

Now who wants to spend their time researching every piece of news or gossip to learn the real truth? I don’t. This is often how politicians operate to get the upper edge on his opponent. Throw enough doubt into the minds of the populace, you win an election. Same works for trials.

None of this behavior is new, it has been going on since the beginning of time but it is just now so damn easy. To top it off, nothing goes away. The negativity against a person persists in cyberspace forever and can be recalled instantly.

If this is someone’s idea of free speech, count me out.

10/05/2011 11:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Think About It said...

At the risk of incurring YOUR wrath Geoff, this could also be said of you (your words):

"The four guys on the dais (also Geoff) take an opposing view as a personal attack and just can't wait to spit back. They're all guilty of it, but Mensinger (Geoff) is the worst, by far. I guess that's what it's like when you're a bully."

In other words, your constant criticisms, coupled with all the personal attacks made on your blog, only serve to make matters worse (you keep poking the council with a stick).

Keep in mind that the four guys on the dais are also entitled to an opinion. Consequently, what makes your opinion more righteous than theirs?

10/05/2011 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous givemhell said...

public ridicule of the council by the usual gang of four or five is getting old. I think it is great the council listens to them and then comes back with an answer showing how wrong they are. Heck, if the council did not comment back the viewing public would actually believe the crap from the lefty public speaker gang. Viewers should get both sides. If the public speakers don't want answers to their complaints spoken to by Righeimer then don't comment. Or at least keep your comments restricted to facts that are undisputable so no retort is necessary. What wimps!! They dish it out and can't take it?? typical leftists. Jim, Don't Stop !!

10/05/2011 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger valan2 said...

Giveemhell said: " I think it is great the council listens to them and then comes back with an answer showing how wrong they are."

The problems are:

1) The Council gets the last word at the end of each meeting, whether or not it's true or accurate. So, their statement gets to settle into everyone's minds and memories for two weeks - thus gaining presumed credibility - before anyone can call/correct them on it. As a result, as you said, many of "the viewing public would actually believe the crap from" these Councilmen.

2) They only respond when it works for them. You notice you don't hear them respond to questions that would not support their arguments.

Some of what the Councilmen say is true and accurate, and some of their points are well-taken. Unfortunately, like the boy who cried "wolf," they've lost the trust people used to have in their Council members, and we often don't know what to believe.

10/05/2011 01:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Karen S. said...

To me our city council member majority deserve credit for doing something I for one could never do. They put themselves on the firing line every day knowing they will be either loved or hated by a large amount of people. I am on the side of the men almost all the time. I like what they are doing and admire them for what they have accomplished so far. Costa Mesa is on the bleeding edge of this entire movement to straighten out the mess left behind by prior councils. Not a task I would want. If it were not Costa Mesa, it would be Santa Ana or some other financially troubled city. Luckily, we have four good leaders that are willing to take the heat and do what has to be done. So I echo Don't Stop!!

I want to propose a concept that may seem odd to many. I propose that the blogs have actually reduced our free speech rights, not increased it. “Reduced?” exclaims Prof. Krochman. “How can that be? You can say anything you want in our country”. Yes, Professor, it reduces it because of fear. Ordinarily I would speak out at Council meetings but I do not do so out of concern for my reputation, my business, my family’s safety. The blogs are primarily what prevents me and others. For a few minutes of satisfaction, I could suffer untold emotional, financial and maybe physical harm. It just ain’t worth it.

This blog has been useful a tool for a quick synopsis of the 5+ hour city council meetings and gives me an easy way to catch up, but I have to always sift out the information from the vendetta Geoff and others have toward the council.

10/05/2011 01:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Freebird said...

Um Karen, It is Freebird. At least get the name right. It looks like you are the one posting from a cave in Afghanistan sitting around a fire pit eating dead bats attacking anyone that disagrees with you. The Register can do what they want. It is their paper. Even if I disagree with someone, I would never want to deny that person the right to express their opinions. You seem to have those socialist values that are against what the USA stands for.

10/05/2011 02:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Freebird said...

To Karen, the resident cave dweller from Afghanistan, the fact that you admire a group a people that have accomplished nothing of value since they came to the council speaks volumes about your morals and ethics. However, you have every right to express yourself, just as Geoff and the others who speak out against what the council is doing. Every elected official knows that they become targets. They are supposed to be held to a higher standard and be professional no matter what is said to them. The fact that they personally attack residents and city staff who disagree with them is unconscionable. Whether you are right leaning or left leaning, you have the right to express your opinions. So Karen, crawl back in your cave and work hard to suppress those who have a different opinion than you. I encourage your opinions against me and others, because here in America you have the right to express them.

10/05/2011 03:13:00 PM  
Anonymous To Correct the Record said...

Freebird, let's just set the record straight here.

I have yet to hear any one of the four councilmen "attack" any member of their opposition. Just the contrary is true. They do a beautiful job of parsing their words so as not to offend anyone. All they do is explain why they have taken the position they have, and why the opposition is wrong.

You are obviously trying to sway those who haven't taken the time to watch the long city council meetings.

I hate to have to say this, but Wendy is the only whiner, and the only "attacker", on the dais. She's also the only council member who is consistently out of order.

10/05/2011 07:45:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

I am not a fan of "Everything Facebook", and Craig is correct; corporatizing (making Facebook richer and giving them more power) many not be the way for the Register to go.

Q. Doesn’t the Times comment section give options? You can choose from 4 or 5 sites; as long as you are signed in to one.

Q. I have always had trouble with logging in at the Pilot (50/50), but don't they have multiple choices also?

1993: A prophetic quote for the year 2032;

Officer Lenina Huxley: Taco Bell was the only restaurant to survive the Franchise Wars. Now all restaurants are Taco Bell.

Q. Who will win the Social Net Wars?

10/05/2011 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Just before midnight Wednesday the Register article announcing their change has recorded well over 600 comments. It will probably surprise nobody that the vast majority condemn the Register for this change and predict its demise. Guess we'll see come Thursday, when Facebook registration will be required.

10/05/2011 11:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Karen S. said...


The Afgan cave dweller idea is my concept for you. Use your own material for a change.

You have a strange way of judging people. Bullying and attacking people on the internet through blogs is NOT American. Being against that behavior is NOT pro-Socialism or a good example of anti-free speech.

Firebird, you are probably closely related to a Union and are extremely threatened by the prospect of having to find a new job in the real world. The days are numbered for folks like you that live in this unrealistic, pampered world. You can fight, attack, scream, cry, but eventually the math will decide. Firebird, it does not look to good for you and your pals so instead of complaining all the time about our council members who are only trying to salvage our city and keep its commitments (paying your pensions, your benefits and your salaries that were agreed to), you and your comrades ought to start looking for new jobs.

I look forward to the day I won't be supporting city employee intellectual giants that sound like you any longer.

Finally, I hear all the time from whiners like Firebird that the council members are bullies. I have yet to see it. Doing what they think is right for the city is not being a bully, it is doing their job and exercising their free speech. They are overly courteous and respectful to everyone that speaks at the Dias. Their patience is admirable and seemingly infinite. Ironically, most of the usual speakers are just campaigning for the next election in 3 minutes increments.


10/06/2011 07:42:00 AM  
Anonymous OC Nissan said...

I believe in free speech and I think the comments are the most entertaining part of reading the news stories on the Oc Register; most of the time they are way more interesting then the articles. Yes, some people are disrespectful, some are flamers, some are trolls and some like to incite others. However, I wouldn't have it any other way. Comments are already pretty censored and the really bad ones are already being removed. As for FB; it takes 3 minutes to put up a fake profile.

10/06/2011 09:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Freebird said...

Kevin oops I mean Karen. What is your name again? You are fun. I love getting you riled up. You seem to want to limit a persons right to speech if they do not agree with you. I encourage your comments and I would never want to censor you like you seem to want to do with me and other who do not agree with you.

10/06/2011 10:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Lacey Kvech said...

I just wanted to say that I use pen names when I post on anything about the City of CM because my husband works there. And I know that higher ups and right wing wackos read these things all the time. I do not want to get my husband in trouble at work for something posted from me. The way these arrogant council members act in vindictive natures at meetings in no way gives me faith that their not having someone excell spreadsheet names of people who post their names to comments against the council. I know its a little far fetched but its a fear to me. I have two babies, one born a month before the big coucil meeting where they announced the pink slips. My husband was still on baby leave. It has been very stressful watching all this stuff take place and how their making all these guys I know into "Union thugs". I've always thought those where big Italian guys that came to bust you up if you didnt use their company to take your trash. So this is a personal thing for us and has completely changed my view on union workers and Politics on a Local scale. I will still not post my name on any of my comments and if I have to use my FB account I will simply not post to those sites. but I've already used personal information in this one so for once I will. It might save the City an hours worth of paying some assistant to go looking for personal files of employees with babies born in February. Thanks Geoff for giving us all the informantion you can.

10/06/2011 10:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Karen S. said...

OC Nissan,

My salient point is that free speech comes with responsibilities. I am not against free speech. But libelous attacks can and should have consequences. The blogs have made it too easy to crucify people while staying anonymous and safe.

For example, assuming you work for Nissan Motors, just a guess, and let's say you are a salesman and let's say I meet you one day and you won’t give me a great deal on a red truck I love. I get mad at you and in revenge; I tell everyone I know on social media that you stole money out of my car when I was not looking. A complete fabrication but still exercising free speech. The word gets out and I become far removed from the initial lie. Someone else did not get what they wanted from you also and added to the lie that your dealership’s service department is crooked and over-charges the customers. Eventually the press comes to your dealership to investigate and demands to interview people on camera. You are eventually fired.

Get it?? In this fictitious scenario, you were harmed but had no idea who caused the damage. The person doing the damage has disappeared and forgotten the whole thing.

I often enjoy the rants also. They can be very entertaining. Those are not the ones I am talking about and are generally not taken seriously. But for some people, blogging has become a way of life. Their mission is to distort, obfuscate, mislead and manipulate the facts in order to obtain a different end result. Their wake of destruction to people’s lives is not their concern nor are they interested in what is needed beyond their own selfish needs. It is those individuals that have ruined it for the rest and what I have been discussing here.

So Freebird, you are illustrating my point. Thank you for that. Your assignment now is to take this latest post and construe it to somehow mean I am against gravity.

10/06/2011 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous CM Lawyer said...

Karen S. You bring up some interesting points. I could not have said them better myself.

10/06/2011 01:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Harriet said...

According to Karen S. I am an unrealistic, pampered, need to get a "real job in the real world", my , my and we have never met. But Karen are u a parent?? I gave 35 yrs of my life to working in education with children and young adults to earn my pension and benefits which by the way I paid my fair share of. You are concerned about your business, family, reputation???? I am worried about that as well, but by the history and reputation of the silent indimidation of the men on our current city council.

To "Correct the Record" u must be sleeping through the city council meetings, I have witnessed the verbal attacks on citizens, staff and fellow city council members. Check out the archives of previous meetings.

10/06/2011 06:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Eleanor said...

Although I rarely comment on OC Register articles, I'm disappointed that a Facebook ID is required. What's wrong with using my own name? I inactivated my Facebook account a few weeks ago because I found it a waste of time. At least the Register could allow readers to use their own names. This new policy is not well thought-out.

10/06/2011 08:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Karen S. said...


You sound like a nice person. If you can, give me an example of a verbal attack on a citizen by a council member with a date and time, I will review the video.

Regarding your pension, do you realize that if the Council did not make the tough decisions they are making right now, you and many other city employees might not receive a pension? It has happened in other cities. I could not Imagine contributing to a pension for 30 years and then the city goes BK. That is a horrible way to end your career and nobody wants that. I think council's actions are to do whatever is needed to honor the commitments to people like you and avoid that scenario. Therefore I feel they are an honorable group, not the evil tyrants as described by others.

10/06/2011 10:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Daisy Mae said...

Wow who is this Karen person? I get the feeling that she is really a he and has posted here before using another name. Agreeing with the council is one thing, but this all out adoration is a bit much.

I understand where the Register is coming from, but I think it is a bad idea to require users to have a Facebook account. Most of the racist and hateful remarks posted are from a few select individuals in which the Register could easily delete. It is also easy to set up a fake Facebook account. I know many of my friends who have accounts for their pets. I guess they will be the ones posting from now on.

10/06/2011 10:36:00 PM  

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