In Principles of Accounting Pr. Durbin drummed ”Cash is King” into his bright eyed freshmen student’s minds. In online interactions “Context is King,” in regards to platform and medium. Whether it’s an email; Twitter tweet, DM, or Reply; or Facebook status, message, or website’s comment section; the voice and approach should be modified.
An issue is that Facebook is starting to ignore the importance of context. This can be seen in the lack of distinction between IM’s and messages, but more importantly it bears the potential for risk in their Comments Social Plugin. Through the plugin, an unassuming gateway between the somewhat private garden of Facebook and the public jungle of the internet is created.
The gateway is created when a commenter on TechCrunch (one of many sites using FB comments) elects to share their comment with their Facebook friends.
Once the comment has been made Pandora’s box has officially been opened, releasing the potential for off topic replies, embarrassing public sharing of nostalgic stories, or just confusion in interactions, due to how a comment that is “Post[ed] to Facebook” handles replies.
The issue is that Facebook posted comments look and are interacted with in the same manner as a typical status/share. The issue arises in that any replies made are not only posted within Facebook, but also on TechCrunch (or source of the comment). The only warning being given of this behavior is a small footer, in gray 9px sized font (pictured below). No warning popup message, no strong clarification of what will take place, just a familiar process with a radically different outcome.
The potential outcome being that that one friend who always goes off on a tangent in his/her replies might not only publicly embarrass themselves, but you as well. Maybe its a story from the bar, an embarrassing high school memory, or any other number of topics, all of which don’t necessitate public scrutiny on industry leading sites.
What’s the solution to this? One is not posting your comments on Facebook, but for many professionals this can be an important part of building a well rounded social presence. A second choice is posting a similar warning to Facebook’s within the body of the comment. This way the warning appears within the natural line of friend’s eye movement, and before the comment field. The issue being, the warning is somewhat unsightly and will appear on both TechCrunch and Facebook.
There is technically nothing wrong with the behavior of Facebook’s commenting plugin, only the lacking of material warning on how it works. Do yourself a favor and make friends aware of Facebook’s where their reply might appear, and be aware of it yourself. You could end up being the one unknowingly going public on the Internet.