What Do You Do When Somebody Steals Your Facebook Updates?

Imagine all of your best Facebook jokes, stolen.

What do you do when someone seems to be cribbing a lot of your Facebook material? I’ve got a sort-of friend who frequently posts articles (uncredited!) right after I do. Those I wouldn’t mind so much, but she also seems to mimic some of my status jokes. Help?

If you were thinking about trying out life as a nonviolent psychopath (not that that’s something you can voluntarily sign up for, at least not authentically, but let’s say you had a free week and you decided to try not caring about anything on earth), you might start out with something light like this. You could lightly plagiarize somebody else’s Facebook personality, take his or her post ideas and status themes and even approximate the lighting of his or her profile picture, and you could make that person miserable without ever having to suffer the consequences. You shouldn’t! But you could.

Here’s why: There is nothing that you can do about this. I don’t know whether the person you’re talking about knows this and doesn’t care, or doesn’t even realize what she’s doing. More than likely, it’s the latter. But not necessarily! Facebook makes monsters of us all.

Even if it is true that your frenemy knows what she’s doing, the unfortunate truth is that it will come off crazier for you to accuse her of stealing all your good Facebook material than it would for her to continue doing it in the first place. Can you even imagine how that conversation would sound? You cannot, I cannot. It would be ridiculous. Unimaginably ridiculous. That’s how you know you shouldn’t try to have it. Either let it go (read: stew and spit about it to your friends), or unfriend her.

What is the etiquette when you tweet something, then realize it might have been more clever/made more sense if it was written this way, which is only slightly but noticeably (and significantly! to you!) different than the way you tweeted it? And I mean the etiquette for someone who has less than 600 followers and is not self-assured enough to think that any of them care at all anyway.

You know when you’re having a Feelings Talk with your friend or your roommate or your boyfriend or girlfriend, and you are mad at this person and kind of WANT him or her to feel a little bit bad about himself or herself, so you say something that is a little bit tough or cutting? But then as you are saying the thing itself, you see the person’s face change in a way that makes you realize he or she is now feeling a LOT bad? But you’ve already said the main words, they’ve been heard and recognized, and so you try to cover them up in a lot of hedging and generalizing self-deprecation (i.e., “You do talk about yourself A LOT, but…ahh, but, I mean, so does everyone, I literally never shut up about myself, we are all horrible when you really think about it.”) until things seem slightly smoothed?

That’s what you’re going to do now, on Twitter. You can’t take back what you originally said, but you can talk over it until, hopefully, people forget about what you said in the first place. And it’s better on this side of the analogy, really, because nobody’s feelings should be getting hurt. If you are revising your tweet insults, we have a whole other set of problems to contend with.

It’s pretty likely that if you have more than, say, 100 followers, at least a few of those people are going to see you make a correction. Some of them might have favorited/RT’d the first version, and you have to accept that if you fix your tweet, not all of them are going to follow through on that new version. This is a weird thing about Twitter, but it’s just life. People only like to click so many times. In some cases, if you’ve already amassed a number of stars/RTs, you might want to just leave it, both for the recognition and for the good reminder that nobody’s asking us to be perfect. But if you catch something early, if it’s not all over the place yet, and if you just WANT to, because it’s your Twitter, always feel OK about deleting and revising your tweets. People notice, but they do not mind.

A Minecraft Creeper

I just moved back to relative civilization after a year living at home. I’m running into friends from Uni that I haven’t spoken to since I graduated last year, but I’ve inadvertently kept up with their lives since a lot of them are constantly updating Facebook and Twitter. When I speak to them now I feel like I know a lot about what has happened to them since I last spoke to them. How much can I say I know without coming across as a Creeper?

First of all, I love that you capitalized Creeper, so I’m keeping it that way. It should be capitalized, you know? It is a big term. Everyone’s worried about coming off like one, everyone these days sort of IS one, but only in the way that our sliding scale of Creeper Tendencies adjusts to accommodate our ever-evolving disillusion with the idea that anybody, least of all us, needs any privacy.

Here’s how to decide if you’re just being a normal Creep (an acceptable category of person, one who knows things s/he wouldn’t without Facebook, but who doesn’t DELVE into these things) or if you’ve crossed the line into Creeper territory: Is the bit of information you want to reference accessible within a minute spent on that person’s wall or profile? Jobs, education, birthdays, and relationship statuses — these are all fair game. They are right there! Nobody should be very surprised if you bring up any of these points of interest. What you want to avoid is bringing up, say, a post that someone else made on your friend’s wall, or a picture she or he was tagged in four years ago. If anyone thinks you’re a Creeper for the former non-offenses, send them to me for a stern talking-to.

FWD: Halp! is a weekly advice column on how to behave like a person when using technology. Would you like said advice? E-mail your questions to Katie.

Katie Heaney is a contributing editor at BuzzFeed FWD. She thinks you should have good manners, even on the Internet.

Illustration by Cara Vandermey

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