By Rick Fuentes
MNA Communications Specialist
(Note: the author is teaching an educational session Wednesday, April 25 on social media at the MNA office at 345 Randolph Ave in St. Paul. RSVPs for the class are available here: https://mnnurses.org/events/?eventID=1532)
Facebook is in a lot of hot water, and many users may not even understand why. What Facebook did wasn’t legally wrong, but it was a serious lapse in judgment. MNA members, nurses, and others who are social media consumers have no choice but to protect ourselves from Facebook and the people who take advantage of Facebook.
Let’s review. Facebook willingly gave the data of 50 million US voters to a research project of a Europe “professor,” who then gave that data to a company that was advising the Trump campaign. Using that data, the Trump campaign could determine what messages and content would influence those voters based on the data those 50 million people willingly gave about themselves. Not to mention that if the Trump campaign (or any campaign) can create content that those voters will like, they will share that with people who are like them and the influence over voters doesn’t just multiply, it multiplies exponentially.
To be clear, this is how Facebook works. It depends on information you voluntarily give up to target you with posts it thinks you will like, including ads. It starts with your friends, which Facebook assumes you like the best. The friends you interact with the most are weighted toward the top of your Facebook page. Then there’s the “likes,” “follows,” stuff you comment on, posts you share, ads you click on, etc. You’re building a marketer’s dossier on yourself and handing it over. The upside for you is you see more stuff you like. The downside is advertisers are more likely to send you stuff they think you will like.
Facebook has been great for MNA and its members (especially folks who never open e-mails). We have been able to share important messages, decisions, and news that affect nurses and their practice more easily and even created private pages for MNA members to share posts with each other. It’s facilitated the distribution of breaking news and even criticism of the union. This has really helped MNA become a member-driven union where nurses drive the message. The platform, however, isn’t perfect, and we’ve had to defend members who’ve gotten in trouble over their use of Facebook. Here’s how to protect yourself:
- ensure your privacy settings are set to “friends.” Don’t let the public see what you post. Users can make their whole profile visible to friends only by going to “Settings” (it’ll be at the bottom of the sidebar in the app, or on a drop down from the top right on the browser version), then go to “Privacy”, change everything to “friends”, also note that this won’t affect historical posts that you’ve set to “public”. From this area you can also update your settings so that you approve any tagged posts before they are posted to your page (recommended), and limit friend requests to “friends of friends” if you want.
- don’t assume anything on a closed public page or group page is private. All it takes is a screenshot to take something to a public page or download it to a file.
- only give out the personal information you’re comfortable with sharing. The Trump administration got its information from users who filled out an online poll called “thisisyourdigitallife.” Users freely gave up information, including how much they believed in the occult and supernatural, which the Trump campaign used in its targeting.
- Obviously, consider HIPAA before posting anything about working in a healthcare facility. Even if it’s one person to another. A comment about a tough or unruly patient can come back at you. All it takes is a like or a share.
MNA will continue to use Facebook and other social media platforms to help its members, and, in all transparency, MNA will continue to advertise on Facebook as well, including events, actions, promotions MNA is behind. We want to members to receive the information that affects them, but we also want members to protect themselves from being victims or just frustrated by solicitations or influence by those who want to manipulate them.
Learn more about using Facebook and social media platforms for personal, professional, and union purposes. Come to this special Educational session on April 25 at 10:15 a.m. You can RSVP here: https://mnnurses.org/events/?eventID=1532