What Nick's Facebook friends are saying about his 25 random things

by Stephen Tall on February 10, 2009

On Sunday, LDV published* Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s contribution to the Facebook meme afflicting sweeping the nation, 25 random things, in which ‘tagged’ Facebook users list, erm, 25 random things about themselves. Here, anonymised, are a selection of the comments that Nick’s Facebook friends have posted in response:

>> Brilliant stuff – good to see a politician keeping on trend with the meme surveys 🙂
>> Careful Nick…you’re coming across as too interesting. people might not believe you’re a real politician
>> #25 made me laugh!
>> Wow, that’s great! It’s nice to see politicians who are so down to earth.
>> Even the 25 things is now affecting those in the highest office of our party…wow
>> im amazed you answered that!!! great
>> I have to say our leader is a bloody good man

* Note to Iain Dale: LDV seeks permission from authors before hitting the copy ‘n’ paste keys and potentially infringing their copyright, especially if published on a semi-private medium like Facebook.

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Oh come come. If it’s posted on Facebook, it’s public property. Semi private? How quaint. Anything a politician writes on a public website is meant for public consumption. It’s the only reason Nick Clegg did it. Credit to him. I posted it because I was impressed he had done it and was bemused by the contortions your various editors seemed to be going through to find reasons not to publish it. I still am, for that matter.

by Iain Dale on February 10, 2009 at 10:19 pm. Reply #

Iain? Facebook is not public. To read that, you need to be logged in and a friend of Nick’s.

That means it’s got two levels of privacy protection. There’s a long tradition of this sort of online privacy, and the Facebook privacy system is based off of the Livejournal system that’s been around since before the word blogging was invented.

It’s posted in a private place, thus permission should be sought, this is going to be an increasingly important issue as time goes by and a lot of websites introduce or improve their granular privacy controls. Posting something from within a walled garden (you do know what that means in internet terminology I hope) without permission is an abuse of trust.

Nick’s chosen to let it fly, but it’s an important issue, as a lot of other people also use the privacy controls for personal stuff they want to talk about.

You’re probably right that this was meant for public consumption. But it wasn’t posted publicly. Thus clarification should be sought.

by MatGB on February 10, 2009 at 10:29 pm. Reply #

I agree with Iain Dale. Let’s not get silly, content on facebook isn’t remotely private.
1) The terms of service of Facebook say so
2) The whole purpose of politicians on facebook is to reach a mass audience.

It’s like holding a press conference and the press not reporting it in case what you said was for their ears only.

Don’t be silly. This was public information. If you really were pussy-footing around the prospect of publishing it then I suggest you develop some common sense.

by John on February 11, 2009 at 12:49 am. Reply #

While i’m at it, have you approached each of the authors of the comments you’ve quoted? If you haven’t, and you still believe that you were right in chasing up Nick Clegg to get his permission, then that says it all really doesn’t it?

by John on February 11, 2009 at 12:51 am. Reply #

John – no-one’s being silly. There’s two basic points of principle and etiquette here.

(1) Nick’s Facebook page is visible only to approved friends – it is not a public website like nickclegg.com. We therefore sought consent before sharing beyond that audience.

(2) it is a breach of copyright – and bad manners – simply to copy ‘n’ paste an article in its entirity without first checking with the author.

In both cases, LDV – 100% rightly in my view – took the decision to delay publication until we knew we had permission to publish. Iain chose not to seek permission – fine, that’s his look-out, but I think he is wrong to criticise LDV for making sure we did things properly.

(And on quoting Nick’s Facebook friends in this article – (i) I did not quote in their entirity, and (ii) I did not attribute the quotes).

by Stephen Tall on February 11, 2009 at 9:31 am. Reply #

Arguing about Facebook privacy is missing the considerably larger point about personal privacy as a basic civil liberty.

Unless Nick Clegg is breaking a law or behaving in a manner unbefitting of an MP, his entire private life (including Facebook memes) should remain precisely that: private.

by Letters From A Tory on February 11, 2009 at 9:45 am. Reply #

Can people please stop saying “random” in this context. It’s pants. If the 25 things were truly “random” they would be intensely boring – they would be things like “Nick Clegg has twnety seven hairs within a two inch radius of his right nipple”. What they actually are, are 25 “carefully selected interesting and surprising things”.

by Paul Walter on February 11, 2009 at 10:50 am. Reply #

Interesting – ex-Liberal turned conservative has problem distinguishing any public/private divide, while self-defining tory defends civil liberties as a principle over the public moral good.

There is clearly a big fracture under Cameron which could open up at any minute.

My feeling is that LDV and Stephen Tall are absolutely right that it is a matter of politesse.

by Oranjepan on February 11, 2009 at 11:52 am. Reply #

Well my comment is quoted up there and i’m quite happy to have my opinion published/broadcast/tattoo’d on the foreheads of delinquent youths in lieu of ASBOs!

by Tom MacPherson on February 11, 2009 at 2:13 pm. Reply #

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