We all love Facebook don’t we? But…..There should be a handbook of facebook etiquette for Kenyans especially. I joined facebook a few years ago and I love the very idea of facebook. Much better than email. Instant connection with friends, former friends, friends of friends and sharing of everything – news, photos, videos, jokes, life updates, etc. The list is endless. Whenever I find myself in a public computer area like a cyber and library, everyone around me seems to be on facebook. In public transport, everyone on their phone is on facebook. Most people are permanently logged on so that they can react fast. And so many Kenyans are on it, sometimes, I forget we are a developing country. This is because people with no electricity have facebook on their phones, cyber cafes are cheap and people will forfeit lunch to credit their phones. A study in some foreign countries interviewed young people and most admitted they would rather give up their sense of smell than give up their favourite gadget. Kenyan youths were not in the study. I wonder what they would have said.
I would like to mention a few irritating Facebook habits that annoy some people whom I recently spoke to over a glass of something. These are some of the things you should never do on Facebook.
Blind Sharing – Do not share information, photos or videos of your friends on walls without their permission. Tag with permission. Anna, (not her real name) laments the recent photo tag of herself surrounded by bottles of alcohol, sitting at a pub with and dressed to party. The “friend” who sent the photo clearly wasn’t thinking. Anna wouldn’t have chosen to share that photo on facebook because her facebook friends come from all walks of her life – office, church, family, etc. The post was quickly removed. Of course, Anna should be responsible for herself and the kind of lifestyle she chooses. However, if you have photos of someone you consider a friend, consider that friendship before you click tag.
Brag about crimes – Do you remember the story of the lady who called in sick for ten days and then boasted of her sunny vacation on Facebook. Verdict? Fired. Just like that. We tend to forget that our workmates are our friends. We forget some of them because they are so silent, watching and waiting for you to make the wrong move.
Bad mouth people, especially bosses – Do not even ask why.
Keep talking about your exact location – Dangerous. I find it scary because very young people that I know, ladies especially, are always bragging about where they are and with who. They text: “Am texting from my Blackberry @ Dodo Coffee House with…” Quite frankly, this is creepy stuff especially when you have 1’000 friends many of who you don’t really know. Keep your location vague and you can still mention that you have a Blackberry. We know it is important to you.
Accepting everyone as a friend – In Kenya, people value their Facebook worth by the number of friends they have. And the rush to grow that number sometimes blinds the user. People want to talk and say that they have 1’223 friends and it means a lot to them. So they keep accepting every Tom, Dick and Harry who asks. If you land in any of Kenya’s chat rooms, after chatting for 5 minutes with a stranger, he (usually he) will ask about your FB (Facebook) name. If you give them, they usually log out of the chat and into Facebook to send you an invite and then you have 1’224 friends. This is the guy who will later court you with the smoothest lines and soon he will be “arrested” by traffic cops on his way to meeting you for speaking on his cell phone while driving a (mercedes) car. So could you please send him Ksh 5k so that he can sort the police mess and he will refund you over dinner? You send the money by mobile payment and the guy logs out for good.
Using people’s photos and their kids photos as your identity – Kenyans are doing that. They use photos of others or other friends as their identity (stolen identity) and then they log on. So a guy may seem younger and when he takes your money, you have the wrong photo.
Meeting Facebook friends in private – The rules of online dating apply. It is advisable to meet for the first few times in public, busy places during the day. It is a good idea to be accompanied by a friend to the first meeting. The friend could later leave having taken a photo of the new friend and letting him know. Avoid meeting in dark alleys, private homes, avoid being taken to another location by car for a drink. Don’t leave your drink unattended. We have heard the rules again and again. Why do we think that Facebook is an exception?
Remember that in Kenya, cyber crime is not yet a major issue except when dealing with bank fraud. So if anything happens, no one bothers to check your Facebook page and so your body may never be found.