Share Scare

Dear Ms. Netiquette,

Quick question on Facebook etiquette. I was recently chided for sharing someone’s public status, specifically they commented on it, something like, “You should ask before sharing someone’s status, please take this down.” (Not sure if the word ‘please’ was used, was too busy hastily taking it down and whipping off a quick apology).

Is this something that other people do before sharing a status? It wasn’t a post that, to my eyes, seemed so obviously personal that it would require special dispensation to remark on. I don’t want to be the one weirdo on Facebook that’s just running around sharing things without asking. And I’m not trying to shit on the person who told me to take it down, but I legit never knew that was even a thing that needed to be done.

For context, I did add my own commentary to the share, but it was echoing the content of the post, not contradicting it. Any insight here?


A fair share?

To my mind, you did not do anything wrong here. Every day, millions of people share other people’s public posts, statuses or otherwise, on Facebook without a thought and without being chastised by the original poster. In fact, many of those original posters are likely awash with quiet gratitude that the content they’ve chosen to post publicly is being shared.

This is how social media platforms have evolved. Likes and shares are veritable currency. I don’t think anyone ever asks permission to retweet someone if their Twitter account is public. And same with reblogging from public Tumblr accounts or reposting from public Instagram accounts.

Now, those platforms are an all-or-nothing deal when it comes to privacy, while Facebook is very much the opposite. If you put the time and energy in, you can make your audience as specific as you want for each individual post.

So when you decide to make a post public, especially on Facebook where there is plenty of middle ground, you are, at a fundamental level, indicating that you are okay with anyone seeing it. Given that the post wasn’t (at least in any obvious way) of a personal nature and you weren’t contradicting the content, it’s confusing to me as to why they would have had such a problem with you sharing it.

If you had merely liked the status, it’s just as probable that your network of friends would have seenthat in their newsfeeds, thus being exposed to the post and, having seen you liked it, able to gather you agreed with its content on some level.

If, for some reason, someone wants to have a public social media post and not have people share it, that’s perfectly okay, but in that case I would advise them to write somewhere on the post as explicit instruction: “Please do not share.”

I think the person you shared from could have been nicer in asking you to take the post down, perhaps something along the lines of, “Hey, I know this status is public, but I actually would prefer that you not share it. Thanks.” That said, I would tell anyone in your position to act politely just as you did. No questions, simply take it down immediately and apologize for the misunderstanding. But I honestly don’t think you have anything to feel bad about.

Image description 1: A row of Facebook reactions: Like, love, haha, yay, wow, sad, angry, and, at the very end, confused with a tiny gif of John Travolta as Vincent Vega looking around and gesturing.