Mark Zuckerberg is feeling the love coming from Peoria’s only newspaper of record.
The Journal Star posted on its website today a new policy: to comment on stories, you have to have a Facebook account.
Beginning Friday morning, readers who wish to comment on PJStar.com articles will do so using their Facebook account. Facebook accounts bring context to our commenting platform, linking to the identity of a registered user who might think twice before saying something they might not otherwise say face-to-face. Consider it similar to an Opinion Page letter to the editor, which is verified by our newsroom before being published in our print edition.
It’s our hope that the move to Facebook commenting will raise the level of dialog on PJStar.com and encourage more readers to participate. We will continue to invite debate and contrary opinions – we just encourage that the discussion be respectful.
Oh yes, I’m sure it will raise the level of dialog, because people never say uncivil things under their real names. People using their real names are the epitome of restraint and civility. I’m confident this move will create a comments section for the Journal Star that is full of real people talking about interesting things in civil ways.
There will likely be spontaneous conversations about Pindar and Chekhov breaking out all over the place. Perhaps when the next science story is published, Facebook users will instinctively turn the course of the conversation toward reconciling general relativity with quantum physics.
We’ll undoubtedly see more people saying respectful phases like, “pardon me,” “if you please,” and “with all due respect.” At worst, if someone is really upset, they may lash out with an impudent “great balls of fire!”
I can’t wait to see the comments once this new Facebook policy goes into effect. The reserved and prudent language will be like reading a Jane Austen novel. It may even encourage more readers to participate — just not the 40% who are not on Facebook, like me.