Monday, June 29, 2015

Social Media Basics for Writers, Part V—Dealing with Facebook Spam

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

This past week the unthinkable happened. I was tagged in a horribly, sexually explicit Facebook post. I wasn’t the one who discovered the post, either. It was my good friend, Angie Arndt. She saw the post, with my name attached, and was a good enough friend to contact me and let me know.

Let me say right now, bringing a post like that to someone’s attention is difficulty and the most loving thing you can do. Please do not ever hesitate to let someone know if they’ve been tagged in an inappropriate post.  After Angie contacted me, even as social media savvy as I am, I did the same thing most of you would have done, I panicked.

I immediately did the wrong things, in the wrong order, and then spent the next hour undoing them, and doing the right things.

Before I help you react better than me, I want to share the links from previous weeks posts in this series, Social Media Basics for Writers.

When we’re active on social media, we’re occasionally going to get caught up in spam. There are things we can do to minimize that (and I’m going to share those today). But it probably is going to happen. But there are two things to remember.
  1. People who know you and have followed you will see it for what it is—a lie.
  2. Don’t panic because the order in which you do things does make a difference.
First Things First
To get to your settings on Facebook, click on the small arrow you’ll find in the upper right of the blue menu bar at the top of your screen. This will bring up a drop-down menu where you’ll find SETTINGS. You can see what I'm referring to in screen shot #1 below.

Screen shot #1.

Click on Settings and then click on Timeline and Tagging. The two things you want to make sure are in place are that only your friends can post on your profile. NOTE: if you have your profile set up for public, you still only want friends to initiate a post on your timeline. Those who follow you (the public part of your FB community) can comment on a post already up there, but they can’t post something new on your profile. This is a safeguard that FB has in place and can’t be changed.

Review posts, the other thing you want in place is that you review posts where you are tagged before they appear on your timeline. So that setting needs to read, ON.

NOTE: reviewing tagging only means you’re notified before it shows up on your timeline. You can still be tagged in posts and that post, with our name on it, show up other places. That same nasty post I was tagged in cause about 45 other Christian publishing professionals.

Review Tags added to your own posts also need to be set to ON. All of these settings are shown in screen shot #2 below.

Screen shot #2 
What To Do When Spam Happens
Don’t Panic. As I said before, do as I say, not as I did. When I saw that awful post, the only thing I could think was to block it from my timeline. So that was the first thing I did. Unfortunately, all that did was hide it from me. Everyone else could still see it and still see that it had my name associated with it. Here’s what you need to do and the order in which you need to do it.

First, click on the small arrow in the upper right-hand corner of the post. This brings up a drop-down menu with several options. Begin by clicking remove tag. This takes your name off the post. See what I'm referring to in screen shot #3 below.

Screen shot #3

Now another menu will appear and Facebook will take you through a series of questions about why you removed your tag. Answer the questions as honestly as possible. If it’s an offensive post, be sure to ask that FB remove it.

Unfriend or Block? For me, the post that went up was bad enough for me to unfriend that account and block them. For a less extreme instance, I might just unfriend them. I use blocking carefully because FB takes that as a serious offense by the account that’s been blocked. There are times when it’s justified, but don’t utilize it in anger.

What's Next?
After I got my name disassociated with the post, I realized that mine had not been the only name I recognized. At that point, Angie and I made a list of those caught in the spam and contacted them through FB messaging. It was embarrassing to bring a post like that to someone else’s attention, but it was the right thing to do.

Now that I’ve had a few days to recover, I’m able to look at what happened with a more objective eye. I can see that this type of thing doesn’t reflect on me personally, but is a situation born out of the time in which we live. And as I said at the beginning of the post, my reputation has stood me in good stead. Those who know me and are familiar with the things I stand for, know that I would never knowingly be involved with anything even remotely related to that post.

I’d like to hear from you. Have you ever been caught up in a spam post?  What questions do you have about security settings for FB? Be sure to leave your comments below.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


On Facebook, spam happens. #SocialMedia expert @EdieMelson shares how to cope (Click to Tweet) 


  1. Like many folks, I have a love-hate relationship with FaceBook. (At the moment I'm leaning more towards the hate side!) Do you two separate FB pages - one personal and one professional? My thoughts are that I'd like to have a private, personal page where I share an occasional family picture or share silly quotes about coffee, etc. and then a public page for all my professional connections. I don't want to make more work for myself, but I also don't want to share posts of a more personal nature with the whole world.

    1. Amanda, right now, although I do have a professional page and a personal profile, I do all my posting on my profile. FB has made it difficult to gain much traction on a professional page without boosting posts. It's not impossible, but it is more difficult. Since I'm not a huge FB fan anyway, I stick with using my profile publicly. I've also discovered that as long as I balance professional with personal, it gives a more rounded and authentic picture of who I am on FB. There are lots of opinions on this, but this is how I manage FB. Thanks so much for stopping by, Blessings, E

  2. My husband did, I saw it while he was away and could not get to a computer. Thank God I knew his password. I kept deleting the pics and they kept coming back. I finally did the about steps(which I learned from another friend) and no more nasty pictures. I also reported the person because he kept doing it. Thank you for this vital information.

    1. Cherrillynn, it's hard to know what to do in a situation like that. I'm glad it turned out well! Blessings, E

  3. Great advice and thanks for the warning. It makes me realize I need to check those settings.

    1. Barbara, I periodically check my settings, just to make sure FB hasn't done some kind of universal change that affected them. Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

  4. I just launched my author FB page and I have a personal one too. I'll have to monitor it closely to see how it grows. I am interested in your comments about the 'business' not being promoted well unless you spend $$ to boost it. Interesting thoughts. Thanks for sharing and letting all of us glean from your experiences.

    1. Erin, it definitely can be done. I have friends who are doing very well with their FB pages, (See what author Rachel Hauck has done with her page). But it's a lot of work and social media isn't a one-size-fits-all proposition so some won't find success. Keep me posted! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Blessings, E

  5. Wow, thank you, Edie! This must be shared!

  6. I'm so sorry this has to be a concern for women today. Thank you for the information. I went in and made the changes. Once, as a new user to social media, I got an obscene message on Twitter. Insult to injury: he used Jesus as his profile picture. Very naive, I tried to evangelize him. Of course, he sent a worse message next. At that point I blocked him. It's not as bad as your experience, but I do have an inkling of how it made you feel.

  7. Wow Edie, I love your honesty. You let us feel normal because we would have done exactly what you did. THEN you taught us how to prevent and address the issue should it happen to us. I really appreciate you!!