Facebook and the war on terror

Daniel Light on SXSWi 2008: That Zuckerberg 'interview':
Maybe I imagined it. Because it seemed to me as though, somewhere amid this evasion and awkwardness, Zuckerberg suggested that Facebook had succeeded in opening up a new front in the war on terror. I must have imagined it. It hardly seems to have warranted a mention anywhere in the morass of resulting coverage. As I saw it, he articulated the view that a generation of Lebanese students, using Facebook to follow the progress of friends journeying into the wider Western world, have now put aside some of the prejudices that might have drawn them into a life of Islamic fundamentalism. Terrorism, actually. (I’m pretty sure he used the word ‘terrorism’. It struck me at the time as a slightly awkward word for him to use, he being the CEO of a company in whom the venture capital division of the CIA has a pronounced financial interest.)

His argument seemed to be that Facebook has torn down the walls of censorship constructed by Imams in order to shield their students from the truth about the West. As I understand it the truth about the West – in this context at least – is that we’re an unholy quasi-religious Zionist alliance, united under the banners of greed and self-interest, crusading to take control of the world’s natural resources and spreading gambling, pornography and substance abuse to all four corners of the world in the process.

Looking at some of the most popular Facebook Applications (Mob Wars, Armies, Vampires, Zombies, Friends For Sale!, Texas HoldEm Poker et al) I can’t for the life of me see what Facebook does to debunk this point of view. On the contrary, I could lists dozens of the most popular apps supporting the notion that all we do is trade in cheap thrills and human suffering. Spend enough time looking through them, and even Scrabulous starts to feel a tiny bit Anglocentric.