Citing Facebook ... Revisited

 
 
 

 

How do we cite a Facebook post?  “QuickTips” tackled this topic a couple of years ago in answer to a reader’s query. It’s time to revisit it. 

In “Citing Facebook. Really?” we pointed out two basic rules:

1. Citing  a website follows the same citation pattern as citing a book:

Author/Creator, Title of Book/Website (Place of publication = URL : Date), specific item, if needed.

2. Citing a titled page or database at a website follows the same pattern as citing a chapter in a book that has different authors and an overall editor:

Creator of Page/Database/Chapter, “Title of Page/Database/Chapter,” Website creator or book editor, Title of Website or Book (Place of publication = URL : Date of creation or access), specific item.

A reader recently probed the issue more deeply. If we write a posting at Facebook, we’re the author of that posting. In a Facebook forum, however, there is likely to be more than one author who needs identifying in the citation. Where and how do we cite each author?

There are variables. Let’s look at a few of them.

 

TO CITE THE AUTHOR OF A NEW POSTING ON A GROUP PAGE:

Chris Lawrence, posting at “British Medieval History,” Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/200811006678312/ : 26 August, 2017 at 7:45 pm), re ampullar of medieval pilgrims.

TO CITE THE AUTHOR OF A COMMENT MADE ON SOMEONE ELSE'S POSTING ON A GROUP PAGE:

Chris Lawrence, posting at “British Medieval History,” Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/200811006678312/ : 26 August, 2017), comment by Colin Torode, 17 August 2017 at 6:12 am.

TO CITE THE AUTHOR OF A COMMENT MADE ON A PERSONAL PAGE:

Elizabeth Shown Mills, posting on personal page, Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.shownmills : 24 August 2017 at 3:01 pm), commenting on the book Generations and Change.*

TO CITE THE AUTHOR OF A COMMENT POSTED ON A PUBLIC PAGE WHERE ALL NEW POSTINGS ARE BY THE CREATOR:

Elizabeth Shown Mills, posting, “The Forgotten People: Cane River’s Creoles of Color,” Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ForgottenPeopleCaneRiverCreoles/posts/539159849549140 : posted 5 October 2014), “Bits of Evidence, No. 377: Who’s a Creole?”

TO CITE A POSTING AT A PUBLIC PAGE WHERE NO INDIVIDUAL CREATOR OR WRITER IS IDENTIFIED:

“Smithsonian National Museum of African American History,” Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/NMAAHC/ : 12 May 2017 at 1:51 pm), “In 1862, Robert Smalls, an enslaved man aboard the Confederate CSS Planter …”

TO CITE A COMMENT ON A POSTING AT A PUBLIC PAGE WHERE NO INDIVIDUAL AUTHOR/CREATOR IS IDENTIFIED:

 “Smithsonian National Museum of African American History,” Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/NMAAHC/ : 12 May 2017 at 1:51 pm), “In 1862, Robert Smalls …,” comment by Lynn Boyd McKenzie, 24 August 2017 at 6:51 p.m.

 

And now, let's complicate things. 

As you can see from these examples, when we cite a corporate website such as Facebook--or when we cite an individual page that is named for its creator, we can end up with pointless redundancy if we use all citation fields covered in Basic Pattern No. 2. For example

Elizabeth Shown Mills, posting at "Elizabeth Shown Mills," Facebook, Inc., Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.shownmills : 24 August 2017 at 3:01 pm), commenting on the book Generations and Change.

No, we don't need to cite the same entity three times—not ESM or Facebook. One of these repetitions can be eliminated. Rather than cite both the author/creator and the eponymously named page and site, it suffices to identity each entity just once:

Elizabeth Shown Mills, posting on personal page, Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.shownmills : 24 August 2017 at 3:01 pm), commenting on the book Generations and Change.

Eagle eyes will notice something that might appear to be an inconsistency. It's not. It's plain logic:

  • In citing the page, we identify the author but not the page; we just say she is posting on a personal page.
  • In citing the site, we cite the site, but not the author/creator.

The logic is this:

  • in citing a webpage, if we were to cite the page but leave the "author" field blank, we would leave our readers wondering whether the information we are citing was posted by the page's creator or someone else whom we've neglected to name. The creator/author's name is essential. Once we know that, her personal page is easy to find.
  • Conversely, a site such as Facebook is so well known that we can eliminate the creator name without creating confusion at all.

Is all clear now? Or have we left confusion on some other point we've not yet addressed?

 

Posted 28 August 2017

AMC
AMC's picture
Facebook

Is the posting time on Facebook consistent for everyone, or does it adjust to the user's time zone?

EE
EE's picture
The time zone that each of us

The time zone that each of us sees attached to a Facebook posting reflects our own time zone. Facebook "translates" the time to the zone of the computer on which the Facebook posting is displayed. 

The Editor