Facebook pages

 
 
 
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jdd915
jdd915's picture
Facebook pages

How does one cite a Facebook page as a source?  They're great sources for birthdates, marriages, names of children, etc...  How are they properly cited?  It's unclear how to do it on the Legacy program.  Thanks.

EE
EE's picture

jdd915:  EE 2.33 covers this.

The Editor

dcshuler
dcshuler's picture

I've been reading the book to figure out the best way to cite Facebook pages since they are a good source of information.  Given many people have the same names and may use security settings that may make their profiles hard to find, I think it's critical to include the main profile URL.

Would this be the best format:

Robert Wood, personal profile; Facebook, Inc; Facebook (http://www.facebook.com); accessed 25 Jan 2013; http://www.facebook.com/bob.wood.

 

EE
EE's picture

dcshuler,

Let's consider several points that would enable us to shorten this considerably and make the results clearer.

  • Underscoring (or italics) signify the title of a publication. But neither of the URLs that you cite point to any publication called "Robert Wood, personal profile." (EE's "Fundamentals of Citation" chapter, 2.2, has basic rules for citing titles.)
  • The title of the page is "Bob Wood."  But this page is not a standalone publication on the web. It's published within the framework of a larger publication/website called Facebook. The two carry the same relationship as an article within a journal or a chapter within a book. The article title should appear in quotation marks. The name of the standalone publication (the website, the journal, or the book) would be in italics or underscored. (EE 2.2 covers this also.)
  • When citing publishers and companies, the type of corporation they chose to create is not normally included in a citation (i.e., "Inc.," "Ltd.," etc.). This is covered at EE 12.1 (which is the first point in the publications chapter.)
  • Citing two URLs within one citation is the same as citing two places of publication for the same book. Most writers and readers find one to be sufficient—and less confusing.
  • Naming Facebook four times in one citation is also a bit of overkill. We may love Facebook—or not—but after the first one or two identifications of FB, your reader will know this comes from FB.  In the case of websites, whose site name is also the name of the company that created the site, we don't have to repeat the name for both the author/creator and the site. (You'll see countless examples of this throughout EE with Ancestry, Heritage Quest, and NARA citations. It's specifically discussed at 6.48 under "Identity of Website Creator.")
  • We also notice in the citation that the longer URL is"facebook.com/bob.wood," but the citation starts with the page name "Robert Woods," not "bob." When we checked the URL, we don't see the full name "Robert." The page name is Bob Wood.
  • When citing publication data for a website, in parentheses, we are following the same practice that we use for books. Specifically, the date goes inside the parentheses, following the format (Publication Place : Date).

All points considered, an EE citation to Bob's personal profile data would simply say:

"Bob Wood," Facebook (www.facebook.com/bob.wood : accessed 25 January 2013), personal profile.

The Editor

dcshuler
dcshuler's picture

Thank you for your thorough response.  I put that together off the top of my head and didn't go through all of the rules before posting.  I'm just starting to move beyond the Quickcheck Models and get into the rules of construction.

I read a piece on documenting Find a Grave that claimed to have your consensus, and it mentioned using the entity type, Inc or LLC, since it was a the same as the website name, to differentiate. Is that included only for the source entry or would you drop it in that case as well?

As a master source, would you then use:

Facebook (www.facebook.com: 2013).

or

Facebook, Inc, Facebook (http://www.facebook.com: 2013).  

I agree, it's a lot of Facebook but the same would apply with LinkedIn, Twitter, Scribd and other social media/Web 2.0 platforms.

 

dcshuler
dcshuler's picture

I was trying to find a way to edit my previous post but couldn't find the function.  I'd instead ask if you'd use:

Facebook. http://www.facebook.com: 2013.

or

Facebook, Inc. Facebook. http://www.facebook.com: 2013.

EE
EE's picture

dcshuler:

Issue 1: Repetition. EE would not repeat Facebook three times in the citation, when the name of the website creator is the same as the name of the website, as well as the main substance of the URL. The principle here is the same one long applied when we cite "standard" (major, well-known, etc.) encyclopedias and dictionaries. (See EE 12.51, "Dictionary," and 12.53 "Encyclopedia." Also note our comment, yesterday, about the use of "Inc.")

Issue 2: Http—to use or not to use when citing the World Wide Web. This is a point on which major style guides disagree. When an online page is not accessed through www, then the http or https should definitely be included. Otherwise, www tyically suffices.

Issue 3: Use of parentheses around publication data/URL. The parentheses appear in a Reference Note citation because, in a reference note, all details relating to one source typically go in the same sentence; the parentheses are used to group related details for clarity. In a Source List Entry, each element of a citation is followed by a period. There is no need, then, to set off publication data with those parentheses. (Incidentally, this is not a persnickety pinhead issue dreamed up by EE. <g>  This is a standard convention a lot older than your age and ours combined.) Whether you choose to use the parentheses in your master source (or "picklist") entry within your relational database is your own choice, so long as the differences are observed in the Source List Entry and Reference Note Entries that you create.

Issue 4: EE's "consensus" invoked by other bloggers and posters. What is termed a "consensus" usually means that the other writer has discussed with us the issues involved and then gone away and created his/her citation. Our opinions are then sometimes rendered in ways we did not intend. Presumably, you've read the FindAGrave queries and answers in this forum. 

 

 

The Editor

dcshuler
dcshuler's picture

Last question, at least from me, on this topic.  Since many of the social sites have security settings, are there any considerations for this in citing a page?  

For example, if I cite information on a profile I have access to, because we're connected, but it's protected from the general public, does that factor into my citation?  I don't know what that user's settings are so it's impossible for me comment this this effect.

tpgentry
tpgentry's picture

After reading my EE book, and buying the electronic 2nd edition to make sure I'm not missing something, I've come up with the following for citing a Facebook page as a source. I'd feel much better if I could find an "official" example though. Can someone tell me if there is an example online somewhere? Am I leaving out any needed information?

 

Source List Entry

"John Doe." www.facebook.com/johndoe : 2013.

First (Full) Reference Note

"John Doe," Facebook (www.facebook.com/johndoe : accessed 30 January 2013), personal profile.

Subsequent (Short) Notes

"John Doe," personal profile.

EE
EE's picture

tpgentry, your Full Reference Note works fine. Given the flimsy and ephemeral nature of an FB profile, EE would be more specific with the Source List Entry and the Subsequent Notes.

If someone were to photocopy a page from your narrative, on which a subsequent reference note said only "John Doe, personal profile," would they understand that you were referring to something as unreliable as a Facebook profile or might they assume that you were in possession of an autobiographical sketch John Doe wrote about himself?  For that reason, EE would deem it better to include the FB identification in the Subsequent Notes.

Also, because of the here-today-gone-tomorrow nature of FB data, stating the exact item and exact date in the Source List Entry might also be wise (although EE would likely never include a Facebook profile in a final list of sources).

Using your examples:

Source List Entry

"John Doe," personal profilewww.facebook.com/johndoe : 30 January 2013.

First (Full) Reference Note

"John Doe," Facebook (www.facebook.com/johndoe : accessed 30 January 2013), personal profile.

Subsequent (Short) Notes

"John Doe," Facebook, personal profile.

The Editor

newonash
newonash's picture

I am new to Facebook so do not know what changes, if any, have occurred since the January 31, 2013 post above.  EE 14.31, 3rd ed., has instead as a suggested reference note:

Jon Kukla, personal page, Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/jonkukla/info : accessed 1 April 2015), "About."

Wondering whether to include "personal page" and "About" as above or "personal profile" as in the post above.  Wondering if "About" is a recent change that wasn't there when the above post was made.  Wondering if it's personal preference as to which example to use or whether the third edition reference note is now the way to go.

Thanks.

Dennis

EE
EE's picture

Dennis, a Facebook page will have various parts into which data can be entered, and those parts will vary according to the type of page that is set up. Individuals generally have personal pages, but the information you cite may be under different tabs on that page. A typical personal page will have tabs that are now labeled "Timeline," "About," "Photos," etc.  A person's main page may also have a little 'personal profile' box (typically unlabelled) that summarizes the often-more complete set of facts entered on the "About" page. 

Considering all the variances, when we cite a personal page we try to be specific about where to find the exact piece of information we are citing. For example, in the Kukla example used in EE3, if we were referencing a 'wall post' of his, rather than the info he put on his "About" page, then we would follow the same format, but instead of "About," we would cite the first few words of the post-of-interest and cite the date it was posted.

 

The Editor

newonash
newonash's picture

Thanks for the clarification.  Now I can proceed to add several Facebook reference notes.

Dennis

EE
EE's picture

And you can proceed with utter confidence that whatever you devise, despite all the good practices you follow, might not be there six months or six years down the road!

The Editor