Facebook is making Yukoners into Alaskans and that’s not fair, say users of the online social utility.
A group of 1,112 people want to see Whitehorse get their own “network” on Facebook.
The Whitehorse advocates say they are tired of having to say they are from Juneau, Alaska, on their profiles, which contain photos and personal details.
They want to say they are from Whitehorse.
Currently, that’s not an option.
For the uninitiated, Facebook is an online forum created in 2004. Think of it as a class reunion in cyberspace. Through that single internet link, you can connect with that old flame or work buddy that you’ve lost touch with.
It’s called a “profile.” And through it, you can see who your buddy’s friends are — suddenly you’ll find yourself trading notes with the entire Burger King shift you used to hang with.
Facebook recently gained news headlines after its decision to partner with multinational companies to tailor advertising to individual users.
The site allows users to e-mail each other and play games. They can also form and join user groups.
They can also join networks.
Those networks are based on schools, workplaces or regions and are established by Facebook.
A network is coveted because it bestows privileges on members.
For example, other people can view member profiles, which are usually inaccessible until you become “friends” with a person, according to the Facebook website.
Right now, no Canadian territory has its own network.
The closest network to Yukon is Juneau, followed by Anchorage, Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary and Kelowna.
Facebook is being unfair to Yukoners, said Nathan Wolfe, a local carpenter’s apprentice and Facebook user.
“I think Facebook is very biased to the US,” said Wolfe. “I notice a lot more of small-town US places have their own networks,”
“I’m curious to know how network choosing goes on. I mean, who gets to decide who gets a network?
“There’s, like, over 1,000 people in our group that I know of and I’m wondering what it will take to get some recognition from Facebook.”
Facebook has entertainment value, helps pass the time and is a good way to keep in contact with more than 150 friends, said Wolfe.
But, after making several inquires to the Palo Alto, California-based company on the issue he’s getting frustrated, he said.
He hasn’t received a single response.
“There’s a link on Facebook where you can suggest new networks. I’ve done that probably upwards of two dozen times and I never get a response.
“People generalize the provinces and I want to say, ‘hey, we’re the territories.’ I want to be who I am and be recognized for it, basically.”
Scott Merry is the deputy operations officer for Sealift Logistics Command Europe in Naples, Italy, and uses Facebook to find old friends.
Merry, who was born and raised in Atlin, BC, has been using Facebook for about two months and would also like to see Whitehorse get a network.
“I would like to see a network because, currently, the only geographical network in existence in the entire Yukon/northern BC/southeast Alaska area is the Juneau, Alaska, network,” said Merry.
“So, anyone from Whitehorse or Atlin, for example, has no choice but to join the closest network, even though it’s not even in Canada.”
Yukon already gets mixed up enough and doesn’t need Facebook’s help, said Whitehorse resident Barb LaChapelle.
“We shouldn’t have to sign up to Juneau because we’re not in Juneau. If we had our own network at least people would know we’re in Yukon, Canada and not Alaska,” said LaChapelle, who has been using Facebook for three months.
Yukon MP Larry Bagnell would also like to see Yukoners get their own network.
“I definitely agree,” he said. “I’ve spent most of my adult life fighting not to have Yukon left out of things.
“Why should we have to join a Juneau group? We could have a Whitehorse one.”
When asked about the issue, Facebook representatives, who responded via e-mail, said any request for new networks is taken under consideration.
“You can suggest new high school, college, work, and regional networks from the bottom of our suggestions page.
Facebook regularly reviews these suggestions, and adds new networks when appropriate,” said Facebook’s Malorie Lucich.
She did not clarify ‘appropriate.’
Lucich and other Facebook representatives said they were not able to grant a telephone interview.