Friday, March 08, 2013

Your Facebook "Likes" can affect your "reputation"; more on real names and pseudonyms

About a year back, a local teenager, successful in acting and vocal and piano music, told me that he doesn’t put much “faith in Facebook”.  Nice onomatopoeia, to be sure.  Yes, I think if you’re successful in the “real world” first, any needed popularity on social media can take care of itself.
I’ve noticed something quirky about Facebook’s Timeline.  If you go to your own profile, it shows, in a very conspicuous manner, your most recent Like, and then pictures of a number of your most recent Likes.  I understand the appeal of Likeonomics (Book reviews, Dec. 19).  But an “elder” can look pretty silly if he isn’t careful, if others look at his public profile.  The safest practice, from a reputation viewpoint, is to “like” a lot of non-person entities, like movies, companies or books (or MLB teams like the Nats).
It’s pretty easy to see that an employer could tell a lot about someone’s temperament from the full profile page and Timeline, if public.

I've noticed, by the way, that recently Twitter feeds to both Facebook and my own site omit conversations or tweets to specific people.  Is it desirable that those not be forwarded?  My own Twitter conversations are always about issues, not about personality stuff.  

I have not noticed any big changes in Timeline or my own Facebook news feed specifically today (or yesterday).  Maybe they were already in effect on my account.  My news feed seems to be driven off "Likes" and possibly my own surfing (since I allow tracking).  It may be affected by the substance of my own blogs and sites.  
EFF is providing a link to a Yahoo! story about Vince Cerf, the supposed ”father of the Internet”, by Gerry Shih, about the practice of requiring real names for social media registration and associated services, link here
Facebook is the strictest, saying that it leads to a safer environment, and it probably does – unless you live in an authoritarian country.  But the biggest issue is cultural. Double lives are not possible anymore, and personal expression and speech through the workplace are comingled.  I really had to deal with this potential “conflict of interest” myself in the 1990s when I had announced I was writing and publishing a book about (in part) gays in the military, while working for a company that dealt with the military and its values.  Cerf’s article talks about the use of pseudonyms, as important and legitimate for many writers.  I even encountered that issue.  My legal name starts with :John W.”, which I have to use for Facebook, but the “William” becomes “Bill” for a nickname, and I publish my books, blogs and websites under the partial nickname (technically a pseudonym) Bill.  Even that caused complications when I was substitute teaching and a controversial fictive screenplay by “Bill” using the name “Bill” for a dubious character was discovered.  

I do subscribe to the belief, that if you have something to say, it has more political and social effect if people know who the speaker is.  Yet some people find that idea frightening (as did my own mother).  They don’t like anyone to seek limelight if they have “gotten out” of responsibilities and risks that others face. 

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