Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Facebook teaser

Yesterday evening when we got home and I turned on the TV in the bedroom (as I often do while changing out of my work clothes) it was on KTLA, the local station we sometimes watch in the morning for the news. Closing out a commercial break (for the syndicated Two and a Half Men) was a teaser for their upcoming 10:00 news broadcast. The teaser only ran about 10 seconds and multiple stories were mentioned, so each only got a headline-esque treatment. The final story included in this manner showed a tight shot of a computer monitor with Facebook up, and the voiceover alluded to how Facebook was "fueling" divorce.

Even only barely paying attention, and without actually having heard the report (as that wouldn't air for over two hours at that point), I could see through that provocative and egregious specious assertion. A social networking website does not make people get divorced; at worst it provides evidence to make those divorce proceedings worse for the party who was really stupid. That, however, is not the "fuel" for the dissolution of a marriage; the fuel is the cheating (implied in the story) or other suggested infidelity—which is itself fueled by the distinct likelihood that the individuals in question probably should not have been married in the first place.

But obviously they thought the best way to draw viewers was to suggest that Facebook was directly responsible.

I didn't actually see the report but I did see the opening of the 10:00 news broadcast where a reporter—outside on a street corner for no discernible reason—teased the story and gave a bit more indication of the content of the story, which was as I suspected: Facebook could be used evidence in a divorce case. However, the tease seemed to aimed at people who were cheating on their spouses to get all traces of the affair off of Facebook (rather than at or people who were in a child custody battle). And let's face it: if you're not smart enough to know that already you deserve to get screwed in divorce court.

But we need to get back to that original teaser ad back during Charlie Sheen's popular sitcom. (Given Sheen's real-life and his character's fictional infidelities, the fact that they'd characterize the story as they did becomes perhaps a bit more clear; must know your audience.) Just before the news ad went off the screen I glanced at the screen closer and noticed the specific text that was at the bottom of the screen, which presumably was intended to allow people watching with the sound off to have some idea what the topic was. It held the same message as the voiceover.

Well, at least I think it was trying to do so.

Here's the screen:
The text reads as follows: "FACEBOOK FEULS DIVORCE"

Not "fuels"; "feuls."

Clearly this story was not meant for people who pay attention, which I suppose would be the sort of people who'd be idiotic enough to fail to cover their online tracks, or at least who would fail to "unfriend" the spouse who filed for divorce.


  1. Two thoughts about this...

    - They're just piggybacking on British analyses that show that STDs are more prevalent among Facebook users. ;-) I don't remember if they adjusted for user age, or not.
    - The person who runs the Chyron is usually an intern or a minimum wage production assistant. What's sad is that they're often college kids, often journalism or mass-comm students. If you can't spell a four-letter word like "fuel" correctly when you're in college, how can you hope to get a job where your writing and spelling actually matters?
    - This is proof positive that you should pay no attention to "journalists," when the quality of their content AND its presentation is so, so very lacking.


So, what do you think?