This article first appeared on Beth Chayim Chadashim’s bi-monthly magazine, G’vanim, June-August 2018 issue. The article encourages community members to keep in touch with each other and with the synagogue through Facebook and suggests ways to maintain privacy and avoid ‘the bad side’ of Facebook.
Some people think Facebook is one big blob of noise. Others can’t live without it. But there’s a way you can have a simple Facebook profile so you can benefit from this modern platform of virtual life. In this article I’ll try to help you set up your Facebook page in a way that supports your life and brings you more of a sense of connection – even love. Even if you are one of the people who believe Facebook may have been partly responsible for the demise of Western civilization – I’m telling you, it can actually be a good thing to have. Keep reading 🙂 .
There’s a lot of controversy around Facebook. On one hand we have an image of the ultimate Facebook user as an addicted 20-year-old kid who refreshes the page every 3 seconds to see how many “likes” his latest post received. Also, Facebook itself comes under scrutiny for the way it has handled users’ data. All of it may be true, but on the other hand – think about the amount of good that it’s doing for communities like ours, for example, when we can open a platform and see the “latest news” from the people we care about. We can wish each other happy birthday, share an interesting article or get details about events that we really want to attend. It’s like having 20 drishat shalom calls (checking in with you, or literally, wishing you peace) in like 2 seconds, all with a simple scroll (the computer kind, not the Torah kind).
But before you dive in, here are three things that might surprise you about Facebook:
- Young people are leaving Facebook.
According to recent eMarketer research, Facebook lost 2.8 million users under 25 in 2017. This is not a surprise to me. As a digital marketing consultant, I can definitely see that younger people are moving more towards Instagram, leaving Facebook to 35+ and the more ‘serious’ people.
- Facebook is now emphasizing community.
We all are part of several communities: our friends’ circle, our family, and in our case – our shul’s. In the past two years, Facebook has changed its algorithm so that things that you see in your Facebook feed are much more likely to be from community groups tied to you. What this means is that Facebook is now helping groups like BCC to stay in touch, stay connected. With this emphasis, just opening Facebook while standing in line at the bank is more likely to present you the latest picture of Davi and Bracha – or Cantor Juval’s new song – or a picture of Adam with his new baby. It sure helps us feel connected!
- You really can protect your privacy!
Many people’s fears around Facebook involve privacy. The bad news is that avoiding a breach of your privacy on web browsing – or even in your email box – can be challenging, and sometimes it happens anyway. The good news is, Facebook has done a lot to improve and simplify the control you have over your info. This includes advanced privacy settings, like hiding your friends lists or hiding your posts from people who are not on your friends list, disabling videos and messaging, and many other tricks to protect your data and your privacy. You can end up having a Facebook account where you see only the people you care about from your many communities.
Here’s what you can do to keep in touch with the community you care about while cutting back on “noise” and protecting your privacy:
- Open a Facebook account and search for community members and friends. Add them to your friends list.
- Connect with BCC’s Facebook page and groups (see list of BCC groups on Facebook at the bottom of this article). Don’t forget to set all news from BCC’s page to show in your feed.
- Disable messaging and automatic video play.
- Make sure that your posts are shared “with friends only.”
- Do not approve friend requests from people you don’t know.
- Use “Hide Post” for things that are less interesting to you (the system will “learn” from this).
- Comment on your friends’ posts! (Facebook ‘understands’ that you want to see more from those friends).
- Hide your friends list.
- Upload at least one good photo and use it as your profile picture. Other than that don’t share photos of you if you don’t wish to.
- Beware of those fun “quizzes” and apps. There are so many “personality quizzes” that your friends are doing and it’s very tempting and fun to do it, but remember: nothing is free. If you’re inputting data about yourself, especially in a random third-party app, you’re giving it away. And also, you already know what’s wrong with your personality by now!
That’s it for now. If you have any questions, you can definitely send them through to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or ask me on my website!
See you on Facebook! 🙂
List of Facebook Groups related to our congregation: