Thursday, January 13, 2011

Facebook Finally Discovers Cedar Park

Not long after moving here I went to my Facebook page to change the name of the town where I hailed from Junction City, Kansas to Cedar Park. I am thrilled to be back in Texas and wanted my “friends” on Facebook to know of my return.

I’m not a heavy user of the social networking site, but it’s a great way to keep tabs on family and friends. I am fascinated by the amount of time some folks spend letting others know arcane details from their everyday lives, such as:

• Just went to Starbucks.
• Going to bed now. Long day.
• Had a great pizza for lunch.
• Just filed a paternity suit against my ex-boyfriend.

OK, kidding about the last item. At least it has not been on my Facebook page by any of my 151 friends.

A few statistics gleaned from the site’s media page. There are 500 million active users of Facebook in the world, 70 percent of whom live outside the United States. There are 151.7 million users in this country. That includes individuals, businesses, and organizations, etc.

Our newspaper, for example, regularly sends breaking-news updates on via Facebook to our 300-plus friends — a number growing each week. More than two million websites are similarly linked to Facebook. Hey, the price is right, as in free.

You ought to sign up by “liking” us on your Facebook page. Sorry, couldn’t resist the plug.

There are 308 million people in the United States, according to the latest census. So even if half of American Facebook users are not actual people but instead are businesses and such, that would still mean one out of every four folks in this country uses Facebook. No wonder Mark Zuckerberg was Time’s Person of the Year.

Until Dec. 30, however, Facebook apparently did not know Cedar Park existed. I realized that when I tried to change locations. I typed in Cedar Park, Texas and it would disappear from the screen after offering choices of other towns with “Cedar” in their name. After about a dozen attempts, I gave up and typed in Austin instead.

This offended my commitment to accuracy. I don’t really live in Austin. I really do live in Cedar Park. The first thing I see when I walk out my front door each morning to walk in the dark is one of the city’s water towers, the words “Cedar Park” faintly visible in the starlight. But I forgot about it until someone mentioned on Facebook to my oldest daughter, also a resident of this town, that she was frustrated the site wouldn’t let her list Cedar Park as where she lived.

I put a bug in editor Johnny Johnson’s ear. Let’s find out what Facebook has against Cedar Park. After all, it allows users to list Leander as where they live. Is this yet another example of the alleged lack of neighborliness between the two cities that Leander Mayor Cowman and other council members alluded to at the December meeting? Could there be some skullduggery going on here, a deliberate attempt to keep Cedar Park from being the place of residence for folks using the most popular social networking site in the world?

Likely not. Still, I thought we could have some fun with this, call Cedar Park’s city manager and get a reaction, maybe even involve the chamber folks in expressing their outrage over Facebook’s dissing of the city.

Johnny e-mailed Facebook on Dec. 30. Approximately 20 minutes later, a city spokeswoman called to say she didn’t understand our question —she was able to put in Cedar Park as where she lived with no problem. Whoever got Johnny’s e-mail at Facebook fixed the problem in minutes.

So, you Cedar Park Facebook users have us to thank. At least that’s my story. You can now list CP as where you live and not have to choose Austin, or Round Rock, or Pflugerville as an alternative. That will leave all of us more time for the important items, like telling our friends on the site what television show we plan to watch tonight.

Originally published in the Hill Country News (Cedar Park, Texas), January 13, 2011.

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