Home > 3. et cetera > Anatomy of A Facebook Chain Letter

Anatomy of A Facebook Chain Letter

January 27th, 2009

There is an interesting chain letter circulating around Facebook asking people to post a note with 25 random things about themselves. I’ve seen 3 or 4 of them among my friends. Here are the “rules”:

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you.

The tagging part is key. Normally, tagging is supposed to be used when you write something ABOUT someone else. But functionally, tagging ensures that the note appears in the persons newsfeed.

This tactic is extremely viral. When someone reveals 25 random things, and asks you to reciprocate, it can be quite persuasive. And so the chain continues!

If you want to see an example, a blogger that I stumbled on through the SocialFeet network has posted her own 25 random things on her web site. She’s got some funny things on her list, mostly either boastful (e.g., “7. I once got an A+ in a statistics class at NYU that I only went to twice. Once for midterm review, and once for the final review“) or revealing (e..g, “23. I have a huge collection of stuffed animals, and as much as I know I should get rid of some of them, I can’t decide which to give away. Every stuffed animal contains a memory.“)

It’s one thing to spread a note like this among your friends, but it’s quite another to post it publicly on your blog. It is quite clear that Stephanie is a confident extrovert!

3. et cetera

  1. January 27th, 2009 at 12:39 | #1

    I am definitely cautious with the information I put online, there are, without a doubt, things that will never end up in my blog. But I consider things like my teddy bear obsession fairly harmless – I work in an industry where nobody really cares about things like that. I'm sure things would be VERY different if I was in a different career.

    Your last statement is a little funny to me, though – I don't see any difference in posting something on my blog vs email among my friends. If I'd put it in any electronic form at all, it's ok for my blog. If it's something sensitive, that's what the phone is for.

    Thank you for the mention, though, and I like the “confident extrovert” title!! I will have to check out your blog, there's a lot here that is really interesting.

  2. January 27th, 2009 at 18:41 | #2

    Hi Stephanie,

    Theoretically, you are right. Anything digital can be reproduced and distributed freely, even if they originate as “private” emails or Facebook posts. Practically, there is a difference between a blog post on the one hand and emails and Facebook posts on the other. Harmless or not, I would not have been able to know these 25 facts about you if you hadn’t posted it your blog. Also, it was helpful for my post to link to something that was obviously public, rather than use an example from a friend on Facebook who may or may not intend to reveal these facts to the world!

    I like your blog too. I am a co-founder of SocialFeet, so I was quite pleased to stumble on your blog when you signed up. I look forward to following your blog too (and perhaps learning more about your “Testudine Venture.”)

  3. January 27th, 2009 at 17:42 | #3

    Hi Stephanie,

    Theoretically, you are right. Anything digital can be reproduced and distributed freely, even if they originate as “private” emails or Facebook posts. Practically, there is a difference between a blog post on the one hand and emails and Facebook posts on the other. Harmless or not, I would not have been able to know these 25 facts about you if you hadn’t posted it your blog. Also, it was helpful for my post to link to something that was obviously public, rather than use an example from a friend on Facebook who may or may not intend to reveal these facts to the world!

    I like your blog too. I am a co-founder of SocialFeet, so I was quite pleased to stumble on your blog when you signed up. I look forward to following your blog too (and perhaps learning more about your “Testudine Venture.”)

    Cheers, Mike

  4. washwords
    January 28th, 2009 at 19:00 | #4

    I did it too! I dunno about confident extrovert, maybe “attention seeking” (in my case) or just, much like you, I was fascinated by the dynamic of it as much as my own personal story. And I did try to add a little twist: using some of the items of my friends and friends' friends as a springboard for my own 25. Would love to hear your take: http://washwords.com/words/2009/25-things-about… (there i go again… divulging personal info.)

  5. January 29th, 2009 at 12:18 | #5

    Thanks for your comment. I guess my main comment is that I had some trouble engaging with your list. As you point out, you don't reveal your real identity on your blog. Also, your approach–using your friends' lists as a point of departure–is interesting. Ultimately, it is hard to follow, though, because it sets people like me up to be 'outsiders' compared to your 'insider' friends Honore, Travis, Emily, etc.

    BTW, you should consider adding SocialFeet to your web site too. Just drop this code into your site:

    <script type="text/javascript" src="http://app.socialfeet.com/sf/"></script>

  6. washwords
    January 29th, 2009 at 13:54 | #6

    Hi Michael,

    Ah yes, good points. I guess for me it was an experiment – would it translate to strangers? I hear you about feeling outside. I wonder if listing “Friend 1” rather than listing friends by name would help or hurt.

    To be honest, I've been away from the blog for a while and am just now becoming active once more and find myself at a decision moment: I've been flirting with being less anon. for a while now and have a kind of strange set up where I'm “one way” anonymous, kind of.

    That is I post my notes to my facebook, under my own real name, so my real friends know I am washwords but I don't say on washwords that my name is…

    That said, I get that it's not too hard to find out if one wants to; I'm just not quite there yet, maybe silly but it works for me.

    Along those lines I'm intrigued but not sure I'm ready for social feet as it might be linking me more than I want to be? does that make sense? But I admire the idea and will definitely check it out.

    Interesting food for thought in any case. And even if that post didn't work for you I do hope you'll come back to washwords. Thanks for the visit.

  7. January 29th, 2009 at 17:30 | #7

    Watch out about the danger of pseudonymity. If you post anything that you would like to be associated with your RN, you are at risk of being exposed. If you do not post any such things, then it seems like you might as well use your RN.

    Thanks for visiting my blog, too.

    Cheers, Mike

  8. January 29th, 2009 at 19:18 | #8

    Thanks for your comment. I guess my main comment is that I had some trouble engaging with your list. As you point out, you don't reveal your real identity on your blog. Also, your approach–using your friends' lists as a point of departure–is interesting. Ultimately, it is hard to follow, though, because it sets people like me up to be 'outsiders' compared to your 'insider' friends Honore, Travis, Emily, etc.

    BTW, you should consider adding SocialFeet to your web site too. Just drop this code into your site:

    <script src="http://app.socialfeet.com/sf/" type="text/javascript"></script>

  9. washwords
    January 29th, 2009 at 20:54 | #9

    Hi Michael,

    Ah yes, good points. I guess for me it was an experiment – would it translate to strangers? I hear you about feeling outside. I wonder if listing “Friend 1” rather than listing friends by name would help or hurt.

    To be honest, I've been away from the blog for a while and am just now becoming active once more and find myself at a decision moment: I've been flirting with being less anon. for a while now and have a kind of strange set up where I'm “one way” anonymous, kind of.

    That is I post my notes to my facebook, under my own real name, so my real friends know I am washwords but I don't say on washwords that my name is…

    That said, I get that it's not too hard to find out if one wants to; I'm just not quite there yet, maybe silly but it works for me.

    Along those lines I'm intrigued but not sure I'm ready for social feet as it might be linking me more than I want to be? does that make sense? But I admire the idea and will definitely check it out.

    Interesting food for thought in any case. And even if that post didn't work for you I do hope you'll come back to washwords. Thanks for the visit.

  10. January 30th, 2009 at 00:30 | #10

    Watch out about the danger of pseudonymity. If you post anything that you would like to be associated with your RN, you are at risk of being exposed. If you do not post any such things, then it seems like you might as well use your RN.

    Thanks for visiting my blog, too.

    Cheers, Mike

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