I ‘like’ the Queen. (Don’t get ahead of yourself there; I’m not a rampant Royalist, or indeed a right-on Republican. I can see both sides of the story). In fact I’ve ‘liked’ the whole of ‘The British Monarchy’, on Facebook that is.
I would have preferred to have just ‘liked’ The Queen, as I couldn’t in all honesty put a big tick next to some of the lesser members of the Royal Family: there are a couple that I don’t see the point of. But I am a Facebook user, and like 180’000 other users who have hooked up with the Windsors since Monday, I’m there to be nosy.
I did initially think that the presence of the Royals on Facebook would be a bit of a joke (would the Queen be playing Farmville, or was that more for the Prince of Wales I wondered) but their online profile is being run with the same efficiency as the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. If you are not a user of Facebook then you should know that all kinds of information can be loaded onto the website with one of the most interesting facets being photographs: you can flick through albums and even leave comments on them.
It’s been fascinating to read through the online comments on the photographs that document the events which the various members of the royal family attend. I would have imagined that the public’s comments and statements about the photos would be heavily policed and censored. As it is entirely within the control of the administrator of the website to remove any comments that they deem to be inappropriate. But no, of the on average 1000 plus comments per photo there are some quite scarily pro-Royalty rants, and some clever debates, and then there are some out and out anti-royalty statements.
However if the Queen fancies a better class of fan she should look to Twitter. Although Facebook has been taking over Mallorca for the past year (and the trend shows no sign of stopping) if you are a Twitter user then you can bask in the glory that (according to a new survey out this week) you are likely to be richer and more educated than any friends you might have who use Facebook.
Either way, how very British: freedom of speech and the right to express your opinion, even if it is anti-monarchy, as long as you’re not rude your comment (it seems) can stay. I guess that this wasn’t exactly what the armed forces went into combat for, but it seems that Voltaire’s famous quote, ‘I may not like what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’ holds true, even online.
(First published 10.11.10 http://www.euroweeklynews.com/columns/vicki-mcleod )