But stop. Please just stop.
If you’ve been on Facebook this week, you’ve seen the meme. “Mom wants to show us how quickly things travel around the Internet.” There’s a picture of a girl or three girls (I’ve seen two versions so far) holding up handwritten signs begging for likes and shares.
So, let me get this straight.
A mom who wants to teach her daughter about the dangers of posting too much information on the Internet, takes that daughter’s picture and to “teach her a lesson” wants to share that with millions of Facebook viewers around the world?
I’ll pause right here for a minute while you process that.
Ready to move on?
Facebook is a great place. I’m connected to people I’ve not seen in 30 or more years who now live around the world and are doing some amazing things.
But Facebook can also be an annoying place. I’ve blocked in excess of 100 game apps because of incessant requests to play. Please don’t invite me. I’m not playing. I do play “Words with Friends” but I keep a tight rein on that.
And don’t even get me started about Facebook “pokes.” Seriously?
Back to the memes.
Here’s what you need to know about what happens when you hit “share.”
The share button, in its current iteration, allows users to take content from another user’s profile and re-post it on their own profiles, along with a byline from the original poster. [Buzzfeed]
That also allows your information to be collected, harvested if you will, and later used for target advertising or other nefarious purposes. It works much like the email that says “bad things will happen if you don’t forward this.”
So, now you know why you get the Viagra and underwear ads, even if they don’t “apply” to you. (and please don’t tell me if they do)
As my friend Beth noted, “We all grumble about the ads and the odd posts we get on FB … it isn’t FB doing this..it’s the LIKES and Shares guys. If something asks you to like and share…it’s spam. Plain and simple they are harvesting your info. If you don’t mind, your friends might because it gets THEIR info through you.”
In other words, every time you sleep with a Facebook post, it’s like you’ve slept with everyone else who has ever posted that.
Not to mention that it gums up everyone’s Facebook feed.
If you see something that you absolutely, positively must share, the best advice is to copy and share it. But the reality is many of the memes that are being shared are months, if not years old. For example the teenagers “hanging the puppy” were dealt with long ago.
You have to keep in mind.
- Jesus won’t bless you or hate you for sharing or not sharing.
- No one will be cured of cancer for sharing a meme (specific prayers or fund raisers for medical expense are a different story – but share them only if you have personal knowledge of the story)
- Bill Gates is not going to send you money.
And don’t think that Facebook isn’t filtering what is seen or not seen. Facebook has a definite interest in promoting or not promoting certain posts. It happens a lot during election season.
Think about it. You have hundreds, or more than a thousand, Facebook friends, yet you hear from the same two dozen on a daily basis. Are the other 900 really that boring?
Memes just gum up the works.
Oddly while I was writing this, a friend posted an obituary for Bob Denver (Gilligan and Maynard G. Krebs). I fell for this once as well. But he died in 2005.
But, back to the memes.
Perhaps the most annoying thing is that people most likely to share a meme this week will next week be sharing the post that says:
OH MY GOD FACEBOOK CHANGED THE PRIVACY SETTINGS AGAIN WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!
The bottom line folks – and, you can teach your children this without sharing their photograph with strangers – if you don’t want something seen or shared on the Internet, then don’t post it or share it. Because once you have, you’ve basically signed over your rights to that information. (have you actually ever read the terms of service?).
But, let me repeat, if you don’t want something spread around the Internet, the ONLY WAY to stop that is to not post it.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve shared stuff. Sometimes there’s just good stuff out there that needs to be seen. But I’ll either copy and save it to my computer, or I’ll find the original source and link from there.
If you can’t do that, perhaps technology is not for you.