Social Media Advice: Facebook Invitations And When To Click 'Attend'

Social media experts Baratunde Thurston and Deanna Zandt answer listener questions about how to behave in the digital age. This week's question: should you click "attend" on a Facebook invitation to help promote the event with the intention of never showing up?

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Finally in Tech, our latest lesson in social media etiquette. With the assist once again from Baratunde Thurston, former digital director at The Onion and author of the book "How to Be Black." And Deanna Zandt, she's the author of "Share This: How You Will Change the World With Social Networking."

This week question about how to behave in a digital age, comes from a listener in Juno, Alaska. What is the best way to reply to Facebook invitation for events, such as concerts and showcases, if you don't plan on showing up. Should you still click that you'll attend to help promotion?

BARATUNDE THURSTON: Great question. As a traveling salesman of jokes, also known as a comedian, I sympathize heavily with this question. Facebook used to have feature called Remove This Event, where you basically - you kind of opted out. Like, you didn't say yes. You didn't say no. You made the problem go away.

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DEANNA ZANDT: It was the most passive-aggressive button on Facebook. It was fantastic.

THURSTON: It was like the event never happened.

ZANDT: Yes.

THURSTON: I would say, oh, it got lost in the mail. I never got your invitation, and that's a beautiful cop-out.

ZANDT: Mm-hmm.

THURSTON: They removed that. They're forcing accountability, forcing awkwardness. I would say, especially as a performer, saying you're going to come and then not showing up is the worse sin.

ZANDT: Yes.

THURSTON: Because people are actually trying to estimate, you know, crowd sizes and demand. And if you just are trying to me qualitatively supportive and then you don't show up, you're a liar. And then, it actually it stings worse.

ZANDT: It stings worse especially if you're person putting on the event. I know that when I produce events actually, and I'm looking at Facebook RSVPs, I actually assume that only about 25 percent of those people are showing. 'Cause some people are just being nice.

THURSTON: Oh.

ZANDT: And, you know, it's great that want to be supportive of your friends - we like that. That's how, you know, the social media stuff is all about karma and being supportive and friendly. But, you know, be aware that you could also be hurting people's feelings. If you want to do good by your friends, share their events to your own timeline. Put it out to their networks. Don't necessarily just use the RSVP function. Use all of the other tools that are available around events.

CORNISH: That's Deanna Zandt and Baratunde Thurston. Have a question for our experts? E-mail to AllTech@NPR.org.

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