In recent years, Facebook has become a popular forum for sharing scholarly ideas. As such, it is helpful to establish some basic citation guidelines for this social media site.

Basic Terms

First, some basic terms. Facebook is a social media site, which means that it is a website designed to enable individuals to easily create and share ideas, photos, articles, and the like. Each user, whether an individual or a company, has a personal page, and various individuals can join together to create a group. Each page or group can be private or public, depending on the settings predefined by the user(s). When a user posts a comment on a page, it begins a thread, which allows other users to provide feedback on the original comment. Like the original comment, comments on a thread can be private or public, depending on the predefined settings of the user.

Citation Guidelines

1. Treat Facebook pages like other websites (CMS §14.245). Include the name of the page, the website, and the URL.

5. Society of Biblical Literature – Women Scholars Facebook page, http://tinyurl.com/z2cyvcb.

“Society of Biblical Literature – Women Scholars.” Facebook. http://tinyurl.com/z2cyvcb.

Note: Contra CMS, the SBLHS 2 does not include access dates.

2. Treat Facebook comments as informal communications (see CMS §14.222).

a. Do not include a citation in the bibliography.

b. Note the commenter, the means of communication, and the date:

John Smith, personal Facebook comment, 12 February 2017.

In a private comment on Facebook on 12 February 2017, John Smith stated …

c. When appropriate, include the location of the comment:

Jane Doe, comment on Society of Biblical Literature – Women Scholars Facebook page, 12 February 2017.

d. When the comment relates to a published piece, include information about the published piece.

Commenting on the recent New York Times article about the Met Museum (Joshua Barone, “Met Museum Makes 375,000 Images Free,” New York Times, 7 February 2017, http://tinyurl.com/h6z4ob7), Jane Doe stated privately on Facebook (12 February 2017) ….

The published piece should also be included in the bibliography.

3. Remember that Facebook comments can be private or public. One should always ask permission of the commenter before publishing a private comment in a scholarly work. We recommend asking permission for publicly posted comments as well. Such comments can be intended as casual conversation by the commenter, who may not wish the words to be widely publicized. When possible, ask first.

4. On any given Facebook page or thread, Facebook displays ads, company profiles, and personal information for a variety of users, not all of whom may be directly involved in the discussion at hand. To respect the privacy of all involved, one should avoid including screenshots of Facebook pages. Rather, type any relevant comments into your discussion.

With Facebook, as with other forms of social media, we encourage our readers to use common sense. Social media is helpful in that it provides a forum for the rapid exchange of ideas and information. In such an environment, however, not all users display appropriate discretion. Remember that anything you post or comment upon will be around for a long time and may be seen by a wider audience than intended, even if your settings are private. Consider whether a private phone call or email is a more appropriate course of action, and remember to take context into consideration as much as possible when citing another’s comment. Consider also why you are citing a comment. Is it to report significant information, to illustrate a given point, or to make someone else look bad? Social media sometimes brings out the worst impulses in even good people. Respectful academic discourse makes no room for such actions and reactions, preferring rather to engage another in productive dialogue than to shut the other person up.

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