This week I got a netiquette question from a West Coast reader regarding Twitter and what to do if you are uncomfortable with someone who is "following" your updates.
We'll call our reader "Jane." Jane's ex started following Jane's best friend's Twitter account after the break up. Jane's best friend was uncomfortable with the ex "following" her posts, but since she knew the ex, she thought it to be a bit brutal to just block him.
Before I answer, he's a little background in case you don't use Twitter: Basically, the idea of Twitter is that you want people to "follow" your 140 character blurbs (like a Facebook status update). Facebook is a place where you tend to connect with people you met in the real world, but Twitter is a place where it's more acceptable and encouraged to meet and "follow" complete strangers around the world that have your same interests. Twitter can be a powerful marketing tool, and if you haven't used it before, I encourage you to set up an account. Play around with it if you have time during your holiday vacation.
But back to the question. The friend has two choices. She can set her posts to private (which kind of goes against the idea of Twitter, so no one really likes doing that). Or the friend can block the guy. My take is this: If Jane's friend is uncomfortable, then just block the guy. No one should have to feel uncomfortable just for the sake of not looking rude. That's what I would do in that situation. It's not like Jane's friend is going to hang out with the ex (or so Jane hopes). To be nice, Jane's friend could send a private message saying something like, "Sorry, but my friendship to Jane comes first, and she's uncomfortable with you following me." Just put the blame on Jane!
But if Jane's friend is still friendly with Jane's ex, then I say just deal with it. That's the risk that goes into being on any social media. The world is going to find you. Nothing is really secret when you engage in social networks. So either block the guy, or get over it.
Niala and I will be taking a break from Poked for the holiday, but you can follow me on Twitter @BridgetCarey (In Twitter speak, that means my account name is BridgetCarey.) Feel free to ask me any of your social network etiquette questions or shoot us an e-mail at poked@MiamiHerald.com.
Happy Holidays and Happy Twittering...