It didn’t seem to matter what I did that morning; Facebook was involved. My husband and I were discussing travel plans, so I needed to send a message via Facebook. Then I needed to schedule a telephone conference, so I sent another message. In the process I checked my news feed for anything Fell Pony related as well as glancing at what Facebook thought were the pertinent headlines of the day. Then of course the radio news was full of Facebook because the company’s CEO was testifying before Congress.
During CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress, as reported on the news that morning, he was asked about the new requirements under the European Union (EU) data protection law called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect on May 25, 2018. He said his company was working towards compliance and that it might be a good starting point for similar efforts in the United States.
Later that day, I was speaking to someone with knowledge of the Fell Pony Society. Most of the work of the Society is of course done by volunteers, with just a small staff in the office. Whenever I talk to the office, I try to ask what is currently occupying the staff’s time because in the past I’ve been surprised by how much of that scarce resource goes into things the Society membership rarely knows about. Years ago I remember learning about the amount of effort that was required to comply with European Union (EU) regulations around equine registration. It seemed strange to me that the EU would be involved in this sort of minute detail. I wasn’t surprised by the Brexit vote more recently as a response to this sort of burden due to membership in the EU.
During the phone conference I had scheduled via Facebook, I learned that once again the office staff was having to spend some of their scarce time on something the membership might never be aware of. It turned out it was that same topic that Mr. Zuckerberg had been asked about during his testimony before Congress: compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation. The connection with Facebook went beyond that, of course, because it is in part because of Facebook’s use of user data that the GDPR was put into effect in the first place. Rather than spending time on more pony-related matters, the Society office was having to comply with yet another EU regulation. The world felt small and very inter-connected as I began my day.
Shortly after I became involved with Fell Ponies, what I think was the first internet-based community for Fell Pony people was created as a Yahoo group. I still have printouts of things long time breeders like Carole Morland and Christine Morton shared there. At the moment, the vast majority of sharing amongst the international Fell Pony community is done on Facebook. It’s hard to imagine that changing, though a decade ago I might have said the same about the Yahoo group!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2018