When Should You Edit a Facebook Comment?

24 Jun

Whether you were drunk, in a hurry, or simply had a change of heart, now you can edit that regrettable Facebook comment. It won’t stop a full-text email notification from going through (if the recipient has them set up) but it does give you a chance to alter what everyone else will see.

Like Social Meditation on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @BradGerick.

For journalists, though, it’s a little more complicated. Is it OK to edit comments, and if so, should it be acknowledged? I say sometimes and yes, respectively.

OK to edit for:

  • Typos: Classification includes misspelled words, but not misspelled names.
  • Corrections: Classification includes misspelled names.
  • Retro-tagging: If you want to grab someone’s attention but forgot to include them in the original comment.
  • Adding Links: Similar to retro-tagging purpose.

When you need to write an “editor’s note” or something similar:

  • Corrections: If you got something wrong, own up to it. Whether through a note in the same edited comment, or by writing a new one below.
  • Change of Context: If you didn’t necessarily have something wrong, but are giving an update that would be perceived differently than the original comment.

Of course there are advantages to writing a completely new comment as opposed to editing the original one. First, you’ll get a fresh “newsfeed boost” by “updating” the original thread to which you’re posting. Secondly, it will look more transparent, especially for a correction, if you leave the original comment and explain your mistake so that users can see where it was made.

Of course sometimes the mistake may be so damning that you want to remove it completely, in which case you should say that.

When do you think it’s OK to edit Facebook comments, professionally and personally?

Here is a screenshot of the Facebook instructions:

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