Have you over-shared on social media?


Surely there’s a way to enjoy social media without annoying your friends, spreading rumours or getting scammed?

The ‘crime’ share

If a post you are asked to share relates to a crime and you haven’t heard anything about it on any local news, don’t bother re-posting. Chances are it’s an old post, one from a different area or something completely fictitious. This is especially true if a post asks you to share with your friends because a person/people of a certain description are committing crimes. Anyone can make a post on Facebook and, whilst it’s good to keep alert of possible dangers in your life, spreading rumours that a person with a strong accent in a market is on the lookout for new victims for a child sex ring could mean that any person with a strong accent is avoided or attacked because of something someone read online. IF a post comes from an official body (your LOCAL police or other service) and has identifying features such as dates, times and locations then you’re probably alright re-posting it. Police won’t release posts without as much specific information as they can offer. If someone is warning you about a ‘blue car’ in the ‘Lancashire area’, chances are the post is useless. DON’T repost things from other areas unless it likely to require the attention of people nationwide. This is especially true if there aren’t details about locations. There’s no point getting all your friends in the UK in a panic about a child abduction that happened in Missouri.

The ‘like’ share

If a post seems pointless; ‘share this if you like bacon’ then don’t repost it. If you really must declare your love of bacon, make your own status about it. I’m sure all your friends will be thrilled. Although most of these posts are harmless, there have been a few instances of ‘like’ farming. This is when a page posts fairly meaningless and trivial pictures and statuses exhorting their likers to share them, and then when a certain number of likers are obtained the page is changed to something that spams people with advertising. If you’ve already found yourself on a page like that, you can just un-like them…

The ‘win something’ share

If a page tells you to share a picture to be in with a chance of winning a prize, check them out first. You’re giving them free advertising, and showing their product to the hundreds of friends you potentially have. If they post such competitions often, and announce winners who seem to be real people, and you really like the product, then share away. But if no one ever seems to get their prize or you’re going to be advertising for a questionable company, think again.

The ‘donate’ share

If a post you’re asked to share is supposed to donate money to charity, don’t think that clicking is your good turn for the day. Charities don’t have any way of keeping track of how many times a chain status is re-posted. They won’t receive a penny just because you had their name in your status. Of course, if you just want to raise awareness then by all means. But be careful about when you do it. ‘It’s [insert cause here] week’ posts often don’t have date on them. Just because your friend re-posted it, doesn’t make it [cause] week. It would be most effective for the charity to do your work for them during their actual awareness weeks. Even better, volunteer or donate money to their cause.

The ‘scam’ post

Anything that tells you Facebook will be charging for their service is, almost certainly, fake. Mark Zuckerburg will probably find a more effective medium than chain statuses if he changes his mind on that. Think about it, every single one of the (many, many, many) changes to Facebook has come with a walkthrough and various messages through your inbox. No one is going to share a status and hope that it gets to everyone before the charges kick in.

The ‘hate’ post

If a post is in any way insulting, sexist, derogatory or breeches the rules of the social media site, report it. You don’t have to comment. Just report the post, and if the page/person responsible frequently shares insulting pictures, report them too. HOWEVER, if the page is just a matter of opinion and isn’t actually harming anyone, don’t report it just because you don’t like it. Social media users have a right to free speech, and you complaining that there’s a page that thinks Justin Bieber ought to be President won’t get anyone anywhere. Social media moderators are up against the clock and need to get through to the really hatey/life-saving stuff. This blog by a Facebook moderator makes for an eye-opening read.

Bust myths with Snopes

We all want to help and inform each other. We all want to raise awareness. But what’s real, and what isn’t? That’s where Snopes comes in. Snopes is your new best friend. Many of the inaccurate posts you’re asked to pass on have been de-bunked already. If nothing else, it reminds us all to question everything out there on the internet.

Except me. You can trust me. And you can, of course, share this article all over your social media. Every ‘like’ gives a starving writer… well, something to smile about!

Photo: The Nailasaurus