Last week, one of my friends sent a message that he was surprised I liked an certain organization on Facebook. I didn't strike him as that kind of a guy, he wrote. The organization was a political action committee. I like hundreds of other groups and politicians on Facebook. Social media is one of the most direct ways elected officials and those running for office use to communicate with their supporters. This is an invaluable tool for reporters like me.
But the message made me uncomfortable. He saw that I "like" the page via an ad Facebook ads have become a common and effective way of marketing a page. Some of the best ads show users which mutual friends also like a page. The ads give off the appearance that, "Hey, join your friends and like this page too."
I don't really like most of pages I "like," especially any of the political ones. My employer knows this, most of my "friends" know it, and the politicians should know it, although, I met one who kept seeing I liked his opponent in an ad and was upset.
But no matter who all knows this, people often forget these lines while on social media. We go on sites like Facebook to post and interact with a wide variety of content. Someone could browse photos a friend posted from a recent trip, then comment on their mothers status, then see a political ad for a politician that I "like."
How long does it take for them to change their context of thinking? They just spent some time interacting personally with the site -- not in a professional manner, which is under the context I "like" the certain page. They may not immediately think about why I like the page. Clearly, my friend did not make that connection.
Who I actually endorse in real life is only known by me, God and the ballot. And that's who all needs to know. As a journalist, it's my job to provide readers and voters with the best, unbiased information. Facebook can confuse it all.
So what to do? I am un-liking everything on Facebook that I actually don't like. It's going to take a lot of time, there's a lot of them, but I think it is vital as social media spending will likely reach a high this election.
To keep track, I am adding them all to the so-called "interest pages," something I have not used but look forward to testing.
This will give me another stream to check for work-related Faceboking, but hopefully allows me to spend less time getting distracted by personal feeds while I am at work.
If that doesn't work, I will have to try other methods. But hopefully my name, which I hope is trusted when it comes to political news, isn't used by algorithms to give off false impressions of my opinion.