Before I begin, I wish to state that I am writing this post, as someone who is very interested in the way we use language on social media. I am not a member of any political party, and have always voted locally for what I feel is best for my hometown regardless of the candidate's political allegiance.
The reason I have to state this is because we have a local election coming in up in my hometown of Bexhill. The list of candidates was announced today, and a variety of opinions have already appeared all over social media, some funny, some informative, some with covert messages, and some downright unpleasant. For anyone who is robust enough to engage about politics on social media, this will come as no surprise. The allegedly ‘sleepy’ town of Bexhill on Sea is not immune to online sniping, and feelings are running high.
Anyway, you will be relieved to know that I am not intending to weigh up the pros and cons of any political proposal in this blog post. The election is only relevant to what I am saying, insofar as I have been reflecting on the sometimes underhand methods which some people use on Facebook to promote their particular cause.
I’ve had a bit of fun and invented vocabulary for the subtle and not so subtle methods which I have observed. It isn’t really funny though. At best, the methods below are misleading, and at worst they downright malicious.
So here goes:
- Facebardment Definition ‘Continuing to post the same view again and again on a Facebook thread until dissenters eventually feel bombarded and either believe the assertion is true or just give up.’
- Facescaring Definition ‘Repeatly dropping exaggerated claims about the negative consequences of a proposal, until people begin to think they're true.’
- Facelittling Definition ‘Using judgemental words such as 'claptrap' or 'get a life' about someone else’s post so that they feel belittled and back off.' This is particularly effective if carried out by someone with a high profile role in the local community’.
- Faceduets Definition ‘Staging a pre-arranged conversation when one person appears to ask a genuine question, and another steps in with a political response. One way of spotting this is to look for people who engage together a lot and are very quick to reply to each other.
- Facewhispering Definition ‘ Making an unsubstantiated or false claim about someone whose viewpoint differs from your own, for example suggesting that they have a fake Facebook ID or are part of an extreme political group.’ Although the claim may then be contradicted, it is often too late, and the whispers continue.
- Facetwisting Definition 'Repeating someone's post back to them, but with a slightly altered meaning.' An example of this might be if someone expressed a worry about a particular housing development, and the reply implied that the poster was against all new housing.
- Facebanter Definition 'Engaging with someone whom you have never or rarely met with a familiarity which would normally be reserved for your closest family or friends, then accusing the person of having no sense of humour when they express their offence.
- Facesmiles Definition 'Posting an unwanted insult or negative personal comment followed by LOL or a succession of smiley faces. The poster can then claim that it was just a joke.
So what am I hoping to gain from this blog post? Probably not a lot, but if one person more feels strong enough to confront the perpetrators, then I will have achieved something.
Can you think of any more examples?