Technology

You can edit Facebook posts now – but you shouldn’t

Patrick Stafford /

I’ve done it, you’ve done it, probably every person who has a social media profile has done it – publishing a post with a mistake.

It’s a pet peeve of mine, but small grammatical mistakes bug the heck out of me. So when I’ve posted a Facebook status update with a rogue apostrophe or a missing letter, I get really annoyed.

Until recently, there has been no way to edit status updates in Facebook. You could only edit comments, and even that was a relatively new idea. In the past few days the social network has been rolling out an update so any status can now be changed after the post is made.

Seems weird it hasn’t happened until now, right?

The internet has created this strange atmosphere around the concept of editing. The rapid nature of the internet means anything you put online will likely be seen by someone, and editing out mistakes will only make a small problem even worse.

Companies run into this problem all the time. Managing Facebook pages is a nightmare, and I don’t envy businesses that have to constantly monitor every single comment to make sure everything adheres to terms and conditions. Comments are a tricky one, anyway, and fan pages are usually troves of irrelevant and offensive material. It’s the nature of keeping a popular bulletin board alive that you need to throw out the waste along the way.

But consider what the changes mean for you and your own Facebook page. Even though the ability to edit your post is there, does it mean you really should? Even for innocent mistakes?

When you post something on your Facebook page, someone is going to see it. It doesn’t matter who it is – if you have a substantial audience then someone is going to see the first update. If they see an update to that post, they’re probably going to take a screenshot of the original, if they can, for evidence.

(If you don’t think this is true, check out virtually any message board when a scandal like this comes up. Someone, somewhere, has screenshots).

Soon, things can spiral out of control. An innocent change may have people asking, “why did you change that post? What are you hiding?”

It seems out of the blue, but it can happen.

This is a small change. You probably didn’t even notice it. But just be warned: Just because Facebook gives you the ability to edit your posts, doesn’t mean you should.

In fact, you’re probably better off never touching the “edit” button at all.

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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