Saturday, April 09, 2011

Loshon Hara and social media

Social media sites make it so easy to keep in touch with friends and family, and even let you widen your circle of friends. But, they also make it very easy for your life to be discussed. If what is being discussed was a post on a social media site, is that discussion loshon hara? I have seen the most intimate details of people’s lives on facebook pages, and entire conversations in the form of “tweets.” These life updates are put out there in a very public forum for the world to see. When does it become “gossip” to discuss these updates? 

I suppose that if you are discussing such an update on the owner’s page, it is not being said behind his back because he can participate in that discussion. But, if one takes what they read on facebook and talks about it around the water cooler at the office, is it talking behind one’s back and therefore loshan hara?

Of course, the argument could be made that when one posts an update to cyberspace, one is accepting the fact that this update will now become common, and very public, knowledge. On the other hand, the poster could be working under the impression that such posts will only be seen by 657 of his closest friends.

So, where does that leave us? If I see a post that concerns me, and I mention it to someone other than the original poster, have I just participated in loshon hara? Or was it already public knowledge? What if the person I spoke to was also a “friend” of the original poster? Can it be assumed that the person to whom I am speaking has seen the same post and therefore is part of the “inner circle?”

Nothing changes the fact that speaking behind someone’s back to cause them harm or mar their character in any way is not an acceptable action. But, at what point should a person take responsibility for their use of social media? If you put it out there, aren’t you expecting, even hoping for, a discussion?

1 comment:

The Red Headed Rebbetzin said...

IMHO-If the person brings it up themselves, assuming you stay on the same thread, it is not Loshon Hara because the "owner" of the information made it public. (This seems REALLY public, but as you guessed their own responsiblity.)Having said that, one should always check with their own Rabbi.