OK I am afraid this week’s column is going to be a bit whiny! And this is not the first time I have whined about the same issue… however, clearly nobody is listening because the situation is getting worse not better.

Facebook, for those who need reminding, is a social network.  It’s not a business noticeboard or promotions club.  It’s a place where I share information with my friends about what I am up to, share pictures of my family, and thoughts and ideas – and enjoy sharing those of other people.

I accept that to make a profit Facebook has to show me some ads, to enable me to enjoy all this stuff on their site at no cost to me.  That’s fine.  I also accept that businesses use Facebook to share information about their brand, and in fact I help them to do this, appropriately and effectively.  Furthermore I completely accept that my friends use Facebook as a platform to bring news about their own enterprises to a wider audience, again this is completely acceptable and appropriate, and you may be reading this article as a result of clicking on a link on my Facebook timeline or someone else’s. Sharing and curating interesting content is a lot of what social networking is all about.

Everyone uses Facebook differently and has slightly different policies regarding who they want to connect with and be friends with.  For some – dare I say it many of the ‘digital native’ generation, a lot of it seems to be about numbers and collecting thousands of ‘friends’, mostly never known or met.  Others deliberately limit their circle on Facebook to ensure they are sharing only with people they know and trust very well.

I have an above average number of ‘Facebook Friends’, but pretty much every one of them I have is someone I either know personally or have some specific connection with.  Requests from a person I don’t know out of the blue I tend to look at closely and see if we have anything in common, any reason for them to wish to connect with me – perhaps if they are in the same area or line of work, or comment a lot on my published writing, if so and they seem to be a real person I may well accept the add – but I will probably toss them straight into my ‘acquaintances’ list for the time being because, at this stage I do not really know them.  If I cannot see any reason why we would wish to be friends then I am afraid I will disregard the invite because I have the ‘followers’ option enabled for anybody interested in seeing the things I post publically.

Of course if that person then makes some effort to connect with me personally and we establish some dialogue and connection then I might well review this, I manage my lists quite actively.  I don’t have any precious rules about online relationships and connections being by definition less valid than those established face to face – there are lots of people I see in the flesh rarely if at all yet feel closely connected to,, just as there are plenty of people I have met in real life and felt no common ground with whatsoever!  So if you think we’d make good Facebook buddies why not connect first with a message or a blog comment so I know who you are, and if you’re not some random stalker we might make it as far as acquaintances anyway!

Hey man, I wanna be your FRIEND..!

Hey man, I wanna be your FRIEND..!

However, all this applies only if you are a real person.  Facebook terms of use clearly state that all users must use their real names, and must have only one single account.  You can of course use Facebook to promote your business, but you do that through Pages and Ads – not through creating a personal profile with a business name.  It’s a social network!  If I went to a party and someone introduced me to Fred Bloggs, I might amongst other conversation ask Fred what he does and he will tell me all about his villa maintenance company, as part of a two-way unpushy social dialogue – that’s cool.  But if my friend said here meet Costa-Sunshine Villas, I’d think hmm that’s a bit weird… this doesn’t sound like a fully rounded human being to me. I think they might be just trying to sell me something – and any relationship or dialogue is likely to one-way for their sole benefit, boring and exploitative to me. “Excuse me, is that the time…”

So, if you create an account in breach of Facebook terms using your business name and send me a friend add, then it will get ignored and unresponded to.  I make friends with people, not businesses.  I do not accept friend requests from – businesses, agencies, websites, towns, media services, online services (who REALLY should know better!), radio stations, newspapers, restaurants, shops, or in one really bizarre case a train.  I don’t want to be friends with a train!  If someone is my friend or even Facebook acquaintance and runs a transport service, they might be able to persuade me to like their Page about it – but I am never going to hang out with a train at a chiringuito, send it a birthday card or invite its comment on my holiday snaps.  I do not make friends with businesses, I make friends with people – is that truly so difficult to understand?

Facebook’s rules for using real names are clearly stated here https://www.facebook.com/help/292517374180078,  if anyone is in doubt.

Connect with me in the comments, or tweet @casslar, if you are a real person!

Published in Costa Blanca News, 10th May 2013

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  • http://www.facebook.com/george.thomas.5458 George Thomas

    Fully agree with your comments.

    • Casslar

      Thanks George its amazing how often it needs saying, and Facebook don’t appear to enforce their own codes of practice very noticeably either…