Blog: The Educated Reporter

It has 48,000 Facebook fans. So what?

Spaghetti tacos: 1,200.

Filipino artist protesting the Catholic church: 12,000.

Anti-Muslim German economist: 21,000.

I just can’t get behind the now-ubiquitous mention in articles of how many Facebook fans some person or cause or toddler-pleasing dinner entree has as indication of its actual popularity. Check out Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker recently on what we can or cannot make of Facebook support.

On Facebook I am a “fan” of Aretha Franklin’s inauguration hat, the brown pieces in Gardetto’s snacks, bacon, EWA, my cousin’s fiancee’s artwork, my friend Hank, the Muppets, Captain Sully, sleeping and The Oatmeal. Except for a couple of these things (I will let you guess which)—and as I suspect is the case with many people—my clicking of a button indicated absolutely no true allegiance or active support. So, journalists, be careful about implying that it does.