Proper Facebook Etiquette

#1000 muck

Monday 29th August, 2011

Dear Mariann,
Love the site and know it is less serious in tone but I have a serious question.

Since the riots in London and I had realised how public my Facebook activities were. What worries me is that it is easy to think you are in a conversation with friends and on such occasions we make jokes and muck about in general. It may not be in good taste – in the view of some – but I made a few jokey comments about raiding Harvey Nicks or Burger King. I was not seriously advocating anyone does this – just joking with my friends. Now I read about people being locked up because the authorities have been checking Facebook. Should I worry – well no I don’t think so – but the serious point is can any of us ever use Facebook again without being very careful about what we say?

Am I right in that Facebook is always open to the police or any agency that might what to poke about into what we think are private conversations.
From Not A Joke in reply to post #998 self-righteous.

Aha, how appropriate. And so not a joke. Yes Facebook is WIDE open. As is all other publicly published comments on the inter-web. This means take careful note of your privacy settings. Facebook likes to play the sophisticated card, which means frequent account updates that play with your visibility and terms and conditions of the site. Another contender is DropBox and their latest update which reads as:

By submitting your stuff to the Services, you grant us (and those we work with to provide the Services) worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable rights to use, copy, distribute, prepare derivative works (such as translations or format conversions). Source.

You might as well stand on a soapbox and declare ‘all this I think I own is actually yours!‘, just keep an eye on what’s going on around you, as four years in cell for a Facebook update does make for Daily Mail front page, but does not make for a good career or social move.

There are lawyers who will argue the case for you as a mis-sent update – now a regular ‘trial’ of these our modern times. ‘Your honour, it was only in jest to fry Burger King’.

Just last week friends of friends sent an update that included what could have been perceived as inflammatory remarks about one of their local stores. Sadly this was also cross-posted and copied to somebodies else.  Then more somebodies, and before you know it everyone else. They tried apologising. Then deletion (too late). Screaming and banging the computer against the table didn’t help either. From an outsider’s perspective there was an awkward frame of reference. From an insider’s viewpoint this counted as incitement and unacceptable behaviour. Then, from a legal pathway, a tangled web of named person’s and new legislation regarding privacy, status and rights to information.

In short, it is the individual‘s  responsibility to police what you say and the context in which you say it. You would not believe the backlash I received regarding a tweet update with the turn of phrase ‘someone call 911’. Lesson learned. Where intonation can be misconstrued, probably better to leave everything out.

2 Responses to “#1000 muck”

  1. Fresher says:

    I enjoyed your top advice to new students. I want to ask if I should make up a new profile so my new uni mates wont get to see my school history and friends?

  2. Abbi says:

    Dear Dr
    I am now going to Uni and I wonder if you have any good advice for us freshers about how we should use Facebook. Do you have perhaps five top do’s and don’ts? I have read some of your advice to people but there is a lot to read and I was hoping for a quick summary.

Leave a Reply