As we start the new term we are already updating our twitter feed regularly to share the magic moments in the early part of the year. We have many parents that follow us and enjoy being able to keep up to speed with events. There is little doubt that staff and parents find twitter a valuable tool.
We decided to investigate the power versus the danger of social media over one weekend. The task was simple enough; I was going to post a picture of an image that urges caution with the words in it that state, ” Don’t be mean behind a screen.”
I posted the image on Facebook and urged my friends to share the post to see how far it would get and how many times it would be shared. I then posted the image on twitter and did the same thing. It was retweeted thirty times and over 1,500 people viewed the image in 2 days.
The Facebook post was even more fascinating as the post was shared over 30 times by people on my friend list. The interesting part is that Facebook showed me the post has been shared 102 times at the time of writing. It is strange to think that 70 people shared my post that I do not know! In other words, my post is out there and I have no control now over who sees it or who shares it. This is a stark warning to us all.
If you publish it be prepared for it to go across the country and world in minutes. At the time of writing my post was shared in Alabama, USA, Utah, USA, Australia, Salou, Spain, Corfu, Tenerife. In the UK it went to Durham, Ashfield, London, Stockton, Cornwall, Nottingham, Halifax, Ushaw Moor, Durham, Ollerton, Manchester and the list goes on. Who knows where the 70 people who reposted it sent it?
I guessed the post would be shared because of the nature of it but I was very surprised at how fast it travelled. This all happened in only two full days and the speed at which it travelled was surprising.
I am always careful about what I post on-line and this has made me realise the need for further caution. If you post something or make a statement make sure you would be happy to have it painted on the front of your house or on a t-shirt you are wearing. If you would not be happy with doing that, don’t post it.
There is some confusion about expressing an opinion and the differences between that and publishing that opinion. If you post it on Facebook and your privacy settings are open; you are proclaiming your post to the world because it is not a private opinion. This may not be criminal but, in terms of a civil issue you can find yourself being accused of making slanderous or defamatory comments. This is particularly important if what you print, is factually not correct.
When such things are posted and a friend writes a comment to spur you on such as, ” You tell them mate” or ” Go girl.” They would do well to add as a footnote “Face the consequences.”
If you want to raise an issue with an individual contact them in person to have your issue resolved. If you have a complaint, in the case of schools or organisations; ask for their complaints procedure. This will help everyone in the longer term.
Finally, if you are angry, put your keyboard and phone away until you cool off. The saying ” Act in haste and repent at leisure” is entirely appropriate.
Communicating online is going to continue to grow and can be so powerful in sharing good news. For those of a certain age her is a quote from a long-since discontinued drama series; Hill Street Blues
“Let’s be careful out there.”