Culture & Entertainment

Facebook faux pas: Is social media etiquette a thing of the past?

By: Stephanie Zolis
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Facebook faux pas: Is social media etiquette a thing of the past?

By: Stephanie Zolis

Photo courtesy FlickrCC/Shawn Campbell While I was employed at my last job, I once tweeted about my frustrations at work. Nothing specific, just that the order of business had gone off the rails. The contents were mere observations, based on facts, nothing that I would consider out of line. We're all allowed to vent online, aren't we? Minutes later, a direct message landed in my inbox. It was from a coworker in a separate but nearby department who followed me on Twitter; he wouldn't have been privy to know what the state of business was like on our end, or the struggles my immediate coworkers and I faced on a daily basis. He had a pretty sweet deal, professionally speaking, in comparison. Yet he still took it upon himself to offer me a word of warning. He advised me to watch what I say, noting that the wrong person (my boss, presumably) might see. Ultimately, I deleted the post, even though I didn't feel it was unprofessional. The words that irked me were actually his. It was overstepping as far as I was concerned. Context is key when it comes to social media. To anyone other than my immediate coworkers, the tweet meant nothing. Within the department, I knew what would be tolerated and what would raise eyebrows. I tweeted within those boundaries. While context is subjective in the digital world, it wasn't an offensive tweet, like the one PR executive Justine Sacco was fired for last month. Despite the fact that she worked in the publicity department of a major media company, she thought nothing of sharing her reflections on a business trip to Cape Town. She wrote, "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!" The obvious response: racist. What an inappropriate thing to say. But many, including Forbes staffer Jeff Bercovici, interpreted the message as "a self-deprecating joke about white guilt and Western privilege—about the sheepish feeling of being physically close to tragedy while remaining safe in an economic and cultural bubble." Whatever Sacco's intention, her case was far more cut and dry than mine. She should have known the tweet was out of line, and she probably does, in retrospect. But in the land of social media, a nanosecond can be too late. It seems that, every week, there's a new headline about someone making waves with risqué comments and offensive or insensitive remarks. A week ago, Madonna's use of the N-word in an Instagram hashtag became the latest headline-grabbing social media faux pas. While, at first, she defended the comment, she later released a statement asking for forgiveness. Madonna's not alone, either. According to a study by online security company Trend Micro, one in four social media users say they've posted something online that they later regretted, while one in three say they've witnessed inappropriate social media conduct. To make sure you haven't committed a social media faux pas, consult our  tips for proper netiquette. (Photo courtesy FlickrCC/Shawn Campbell)
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Facebook faux pas: Is social media etiquette a thing of the past?

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