Monday, August 13, 2012

Why to only friend people you know on Facebook

Hey there,

So this has come up before and it has recently come up again in talking with friends about Facebook, my friend'ing policy. It's pretty simple: I accept friend requests from people have met in person. As long as that has happened, we're good.

I know, I'm a bit of a stickler. And by no means is this original, for some it might be too strict, for others too relaxed, as they only connect with good friends and/or family. And this is on top of the unspoken rule that I don't accept friend requests from organizations or companies. I'll like your page, but if you've got a personal profile set up for your business or nonprofit, then you're not only not doing the minimal work to do social media right, but it also means you're violating Facebook policy.  But I digress.

Yes, there are exceptions to any rule, and I ever-so-slightly fibbed with my subject line. Just so you know, I'll put it out there that as of the time of this post, there are two people I am friends with on Facebook that I haven't met in person. At least, not yet. One of them is a fellow intern at Dance Place, whom I assume I'll be meeting sooner or later when our internships start in September. The other is a fellow GALA Chorus member who I did not meet this past year in Denver but we were both there at the same time, and we mean to keep in touch with each other and meet in person at the next GALA Festival in 2016.

Other than those two, the other friends I have on Facebook are all individuals, whose paths I've been grateful to have had cross with my own, at some point in our lives. And that is part of the intent of Facebook, and I'm a bit of a social media purist. I want to use platforms the way their creators intended them to be used. FB actually spells it out in their help section, if you check out their page on friends & requests:

Who should I send friend requests to?
Facebook is a place for connecting with friends, family, and other people you know personally. You should send friend requests to people you have a real-life connection to, like your friends, family, coworkers, or classmates. 

These policies, both the site and my personal one, actually keep things simple for me. I only have to worry about where & when I met someone. I don't have to think about why they want to friend me, how we know each other, each time I get a friend request. This is part of why Facebook launched their subscribe feature for public profiles almost a year ago. Here's a quote from a Mashable article about it:
The button gives you a way to follow the content others are posting without actually becoming Facebook friends with them. In a lot of ways, it’s like following somebody on Twitter...(read more)
Facebook directly addresses subscribing to someone as an alternative to friending them, in situations where you don't know them, and they have this up in their FAQ:

You should only add someone as a friend when you know them personally. If you don't know someone personally but want to hear what they have to say, subscribing is a good option. When you subscribe to someone, you'll only be able to see their public updates. 
I personally think there's a fine line between accepting friend requests from strangers and having public posts people can subscribe to, so why not just keep it simple.

So in looking to provide some context for this blog post, I actually googled "facebook what if i friend people i don't know". There were some cases I hadn't even considered to be issues with this, some more extreme than others. One that stuck out seemed to say don't do this if you're a criminal, as it's how some got caught. Another mentioned ID theft as a concern with letting strangers access your personal data, especially if you haven't deciphered Facebook's privacy settings.

Anyway, that's just me. And I wanted to share. Ultimately, regardless of Facebook's intents, it comes down to personal preferences. If you don't mind accepting requests for stranger, just make sure you're countering by being thoughtful of every post you put out there. And if you're going to do that, you might as well just make your profile public and allow people to subscribe to it. That being said, if you'd like to connect with me on FB, please feel free to subscribe below!! :-)

- JR

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