Have you just committed a massive Facebook faux-pas?

The rise of social media has changed everything (I know – stop press! But stay with me…)

We now know more about our friends than ever before. I know that my friend Fiona took her dad to Soho Japan for lunch today (she checked in on Foursquare) and thanks to Twitter, I know that tonight, my colleague Sarah watched Kirstie’s Handmade Britain on Channel 4. “I’m not feeling this Handmade Britain prog,” she tweeted. “Really useless stuff’s being made. I don’t want a display with plums in it on my dinner table!”

You could argue that knowing all the details about everyone means there’s less need to actually meet up for a wine, some Mini Cheddars and a gossip (admittedly though, I doubt if I went out with Fiona or Sarah for a wine that the first thing they’d do is fill me in on what they had for lunch or what they watched on telly last night. They’d be far more likely to launch into some juicy gossip they just heard.)

In just the last few weeks on Facebook, I’ve seen honeymoon snaps of people I briefly worked with a while back, and photos of a new baby belonging to a guy my friend used to go out with back in our uni days. It’s genuinely lovely to have these photos shared – they’re life altering moments and the ability to allow all your friends (and acquaintances) to see and comment on those moments is brilliant and genius. But do we need some new social media rules put in place now that our mums, aunties, grandparents and the milkman are all using social media?

Is it acceptable, for example, to post something on Facebook or Twitter about the birth of a baby before the parents have done so? I’ve seen it happen a couple of times where an excited friend posts on the (very) new mum’s Facebook wall, thus broadcasting the news to 507 people, potentially before the new mum’s nearest and dearest know. Emma in Bromley blogged about this happening to her a few months back.

And what about pressing that ‘share’ button on a photo of someone’s cute baby on Facebook? They may well have their privacy settings set to max, and be keen to keep photos of their children away from ‘public view’ (see this post I wrote about a child’s online footprint) but just one click of the share button means that all your friends get to see that photo.

Fair enough or a massive social faux-pas?

babies, Facebook, someecards, social media rules




  1. November 9, 2011 / 10:05 pm

    Aww thank you for the mention!
    I do think new rules need to be set in place and I didn’t know that the photos of my children (set on max privacy) can so easily be shared! – it also drives me crazy that family and friends upload pics of my children without asking first! In some ways I want to create a digital footprint – i’d love for one of my children to google themselves when they are older and stumble across an old blog post or baby pic, but at the same time I’m very protective and want to have more control over what people add about me and my family.

    Good post – I do fear social media is getting out of control x

  2. James
    November 9, 2011 / 10:44 pm

    I don’t think you can or should try to introduce rules to an environment born out of our cultural development. Social Media is just that and as a result when you put your content on their you lose you ownership of it on more than one level.

    Real time tagging will arrive soon followed by always on video feeds. Then far more will be out there.

    10 years on we will be streaming our subconscious thoughts as IP packets.

  3. November 10, 2011 / 10:07 am

    Hi James,
    Thanks for your comment. I think every social group has rules (albeit unwritten ones often) and can only survive with those rules. Why should social media be any different?
    I think that as it develops and changes, we need to shift our expectations but we also need to rewrite the rules (again, unwritten ones perhaps). Eg. I feel like many people who have been on Facebook for years adhere to certain rules, but some newer members (often older ones) aren’t aware of these rules and can be the culprits in doing the ‘wrong’ thing.

  4. Expat Mammy
    November 10, 2011 / 3:55 pm

    I limit certain people seeing really personal stuff

  5. November 13, 2011 / 10:40 am

    I found it wholly unacceptable hearing news of my best friends second child on Facebook including what she had had! I had been there for the first birth and would never have dreamed of writing a single word on Facebook.

  6. Metropolitan Mum
    December 2, 2011 / 4:25 pm

    Found out about a friend’s baby via Facebook before the parents had the chance to send that mass text. I wouldn’t like it that way.

  7. December 5, 2011 / 10:00 pm

    This is a really interesting issue. I think there’s a pressure on facebook and twitter to be ‘first’ with news …. even if it’s not your own. Nice post

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