About Facebook

Mondoweiss had an interesting post about the social network, Facebook:

The folks at Palestinian Refugee ResearchNet thought they’d create a Facebook page only to discover: Facebook blocks the term “Palestinian”!

Just to be sure, I tried myself to create a “Palestinian sports” page — not allowed.

However, shortly after raising a ruckus, apparently, the issue had been resolved.

That got me thinking. Who’s in charge over at Facebook for a matter such as this? Does the legal department have oversight? And the legal department is run by whom exactly?

General counsel to the social network is none other than Ted Ullyot, an American lawyer and former government official. Not just any former government official, either. He was chief of staff to former AG Alberto Gonzales.  He was also a former Kirkland & Ellis LLP partner. Talk about well connected.

“Ted has extremely strong connections with the Republican party, and we think that’s a good thing,” according to Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice president of communications and public policy (and himself a lawyer).

Ullyot attended the University of Chicago Law School. After graduation he clerked for Supreme Court of the United States Justice Antonin Scalia and 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge J. Michael Luttig. The Chicago School connections are copious.

Interestingly enough, a subsequent posting at Mondoweiss also took on Chicagoan Obama’s over-reliance on members of the Hyde Park – Harvard brigade.

Now, one place where the Chicago School and Hyde Park Activism roughly intersect is their inherent philo-semitism. Isn’t that arguably one of the principal reasons we are (once again) going in circles about the Middle East despite the Hope that happens now to be in Office?  After all, what do we really know about the hidden pressure applied by the Israeli leader to Obama which was potent enough to make Bibi a welcome guest again at the White House — what was the Hope’s price-too-high to pay in Chicago for waning on the special friendship with Israel?  As reported by Ha’aretz:

Netanyahu waged a struggle. And the statesman who is depicted as susceptible to pressure did not succumb to the American pressure of this past spring. He fought back. The price for what Netanyahu did was felt by Obama in Chicago. The Israeli leader applied hidden pressure to the American leader, which made it perfectly clear to him: No more.

When tones change as quickly as that, the impetus can be one of two things: either they cut a deal or they reached a common understanding. Whether that involved coercion, who knows.

As for Facebook, there seems to be a Quit Facebook movement afoot. I wonder what the appeal of Facebook continues to be? At this point, inertial forces are probably as efficacious as any “coolness” that abides in membership. We’ll see whether the upcoming movie about Facebook has any effect on folks’ perceptions about the social network.

I had been with Facebook long enough for the website to reveal its relevance — to the extent it had any.  After a few years of being on board — even after Ullyot joined, when I realized that privacy concerns (or the loss of one’s privacy) would be more important than ever — the website’s goodness continued to elude me. (It’s worth noting here that Facebook recently hired another former Bushy lawyer, Tim Muris, a former senior regulator in the W. administration (whom we have to thank for the Do Not Call Registry), to defend its privacy policies against government scrutiny.)

When I finally made up my mind to drop the habit, I felt liberated. Logging in and playing along to its dilapidated utility may have burned only minutes a day, but it added up: minutes become hours, and so on. And afterward, my social network? Didn’t suffer one bit. Chalk up a win in favor of the Discipline.

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