Is it acceptable for strangers to post advertising and political rants on your Facebook page on your birthday?
The Manners Doctor, aka Camilla Randall, author of "Good Manners for Bad Times" and "Rx for the Modern Wedding", has agreed to visit this blog once a month to answer some of our questions about online etiquette.
|Are Girl Scouts taking over the world with poisoned Thin Mints?|
Dear Manners Doctor,
I recently had a birthday, and I was gratified to see how many of my social media “friends” wished me happiness. But my Facebook page was also crowded with ads for books and services, plus a 2000 word rant from a man who claims that Lizard People from Betelgeuse have infiltrated the Girl Scouts and are planning to take over the world by poisoning people with bogus Thin Mints.
Some of my friends complained about the rant and some of the books, so I deleted the posts. Now the Lizard Person complains I have violated his freedom of speech. So did one of the authors who advertised a copy of her erotica book.
Am I violating the rights of these people?
Dear Birthday Girl,
The Manners Doctor is always appalled by the behavior of people who think that being “on the Internet” somehow eliminates the need to practice good manners. Being online actually requires more attention to manners since one can’t use facial expressions, tone of voice, or body language to fine-tune one’s messages.
What you describe is the equivalent of posting advertising billboards and political signs on a neighbor’s lawn without permission. Whether or not these are posted on the neighbor’s birthday, this is bad manners.
These people are trespassing.
These people are trespassing.
The doctor suspects that these people have read the Facebook guidelines that say it’s a no-no to post on another person’s “timeline” unless there is some occasion where you want to send good wishes, like a birthday.
But this does not mean that people are invited to invade a neighbor’s personal space on their birthday.
As for the accusation of the victim violating the “freedom of speech” of these trespassers, the victim is not the one doing the violating. Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas in public without fear of retaliation by the government.
It does not say one’s speech is free from consequences. Just free from government retaliation.
If you call your mother-in-law a Lizard Person from Betelgeuse, you will have to deal with the consequences, and “freedom of speech” will not save you.
The Manners Doctor does not believe the Girl Scouts are Lizard People planning to take over the world with poisoned Thin Mints. This is because the Girl Scouts have already taken over the world with Thin Mints, which are one of the most addictive substances known to man.
Very Truly Yours,
The Manners Doctor
Have you ever had unwanted things posted on your FB page on your birthday? At other times? How did you deal with it? Do you have any questions for the Manners Doctor?
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