With a New Year comes renewed resolutions, and I’m again attempting to tackle my digital diet, so I’m looking at my usage of social networks. I am a heavy user of both Twitter and Facebook, but I use them in different ways – which I suspect many do. Facebook is much more for closer family and friends, whilst Twitter is more of a public broadcasting system.
Another difference occurred to me the other day though; Twitter is a feed that I curate, but Facebook is a place I curate.
Specifically, with Facebook I feel it is my duty to deal with and moderate comments on material on my timeline; with Twitter this is not an issue.
When I publish something on Twitter, people can reply, but I do not feel responsible for what they say – my only responsibility is to my feed, what I publish, say, etc. A Twitter reply is not ‘on my timeline’, it is someone else’s. With Facebook, however, people can reply to items on my timeline, and the commentary becomes a part of my timeline and so I have felt the need to moderate such activity. If someone were to say something that might be offensive to someone else, or may be particularly controversial, I feel a responsibility to deal with that, as it is happening on ‘my space’ (no pun intended). It doesn’t happen very often, but I have occasionally had to delete items by others for fear they might offend – or that it might (or has) trigger an argument or debate that I don’t want happening on my timeline. Often this is down to the ambiguity and vagueness that text alone offers – one mans pithy comment is another mans red-rag to a bull.
Even though these comments are clearly someone else’s, and not my own, the fact that they occur on my Facebook timeline makes me feel as though I should moderate. This is an odd difference between the two virtual spaces, with Twitter because tweets do not have comments but ‘replies’ I do not feel this burden. This is one difference which has made me lean much more towards Twitter use in recent times, there is none of this overhead. Paradoxically it is exactly this engagement – the opportunities for debate, collaboration, conversation, that Facebook offers that attracts me to the platform. The pay off is that I feel it is my duty to monitor and moderate that space, where necessary.