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Saturday 10 October 2009

Fun with Facebook

Posted in: Community
By Matt Akersten - 9th October 2009

Brit wit Stephen Fry calls it 'Sit on my Facebook', and it's home to a wide variety of time-wasters like 'Farmville' games, 'Which mass-murdering dictator are you?' quizzes, random 'this made me LOL' video clips and even 'Mystic Meg' fortune telling. No wonder it's now been banned from over half of America's workplaces - and a large chunk of Kiwi ones.

Facebook's gotten scarily popular recently - there are now over 300 million users across the world. That's led to some pretty weird goings-on. Just today, the BBC reports that a British clubber who attacked a man with a bottle has been jailed after his victim tracked him down using the social networking site. Meanwhile, an Australian flight attendant is in trouble after trying to contact a teenage passenger via Facebook after seeing her name on her boarding pass. Dodgy!


We love Facebook, and since the privacy settings have been tightened up and made more customisable. It seems like a pretty safe place to be yourself on - as long as you choose your 'friends' wisely:


The website's powers-that-be are committed to making the website a place where LGBT people are welcome, and will remove any homophobic material which gets reported to them. Its staff have take down anti-gay groups which spring up and can ban the creators of them.

The website's no stranger to controversy from our communities though. Some transgender users hate how there's only two options for profiles: 'Male' or 'Female' with nothing in between. And recently some American students came up with a computer programme which could tell who was gay just by looking at people's Facebook profiles and "the gender and persuasion" of your friends. Their 'gaydar' created fears around outing people - but the programme proved very bad as guessing which women were lesbians, so at least closeted gals can still sleep safe in their beds.

Facebook can be a low-stress way of coming out to people, without calling too much attention to it. By selecting which gender you're more interested in, you leave your friends in no doubt who you go for, without shouting it from the rooftops.

But is Facebook a good place to find a partner? It might seem at first glance to be a way to harvest eligible people, since you can seek out folks your friends know and then ask them about the ones you think are hot... but in practise, using Facebook as a hook-up place is a bit tacky - many see their profile as 'strictly for people I really know' and would be weirded out by random attentions from someone new. After all, there are plenty of other websites out there for dating.



As always when you're on the internet, be very careful how much you reveal about yourself. It's true that you can set your profile so that that only your 'friends' may see your details, but it's easy to get carried away with adding people you don't know very well, and problems may start when someone dodgy gets all your details, our if you answer 'What's on your mind' with something candid you might regret later:


Also think very carefully before listing yourself as 'in a relationship'. It's very sweet when you're hooking up, but next month when it's all over, the 'Mr. X has ended their relationship' message on all your friend's profiles will be just embarrassing.

Apart from that, the same rules apply as they would on any website. Be yourself, be considerate of others, and DON'T TYPE ALL IN CAPITALS!

Facebook is particularly useful for planning events:


You can easily invite the people you want at your get-togethers, whether they're on the website or just via email, and you can even 'export' your events to your Outlook email as a calendar reminder. Remember though, that just because someone says they're 'attending', doesn't mean they really will.

And here's one quick trick we've just discovered: in your status updates, you can add links to your friends' pages by using the '@' symbol, then typing their name - a dropdown menu will guide you to the person you want to.


Here are some of New Zealand's most popular LGBT-related Facebook groups, worth a click:

Queer Kiwis

The biggest Facebook group uniting LGBT New Zealanders, with over 670 members:

The word "gay" is not a synonym for "stupid"

Tired of people saying "that's so gay" when they don't like something? You're not alone - this group has almost 184,000 members:

Support Gay Adoption NZ

Gay and lesbian couples should be able to adopt children together - join this group if you agree. 844 others have!

Legalise Gay Marriage in NZ NOW!!!

The move towards legalising same-sex marriage is slowing gathering pace locally. Keep up to date here:

Let's get Gender Identity CLEARLY in the Human Rights Act

A Kiwi group formed after the Human Rights Commission's Transgender Inquiry, hoping that soon it'll be easier for NZ's trans citizens to stand up for their rights:

NZ Census: Call for inclusion of Gay/Sexual Orientation Question

Joining this group indicates you want a gay/sexual orientation question included in New Zealand's census:

Fabulous Arts Aotearoa New Zealand

Find out what's coming next from the people who brought you Mates & Lover at BATS Theatre:

I use condoms and lube

Ask questions about sex between men and find out how to avoid STI's here:


Auckland's big club night out for women who want women:


K' Road men's bar Urge has over 1,300 Facebook mates:

Out Takes 2009: A Reel Queer Film Festival

New Zealand's LGBT film festival will be back for 2010 in Auckland and Wellington:

Gay Auckland Business Association

GABA's into Facebook with news, photos and event plans:

Shine nightclub

Gay nightlife in Hamilton central:

Club Ivy

Wellington's gayest nightclub keeps its fans informed of future happenings there:

Gay Ski Week NZ

New Zealand's gay skiing week is over for 2009, but its Facebook fans can stay in touch with plans for next year as they develop:

Wellington's Outgames 2011

Planned for March 2011, this will be the biggest gay and lesbian event our capital city has ever hosted and will involve thousands of people from throughout NZ, Australia, the Pacific Islands, Asia and beyond:

Gay Republic of Auckland

Find out about gay parties and events in the queen city:

Scotty & Mal's Cocktail & Lounge Bar

Plan your evening at Cuba Street's friendly drinkery: also has its own page on Facebook. We'd love it if you joined us there. We add links to our most recent stories, along with various other tidbits. This weekend we'll give a few prizes away too: .

Finally, how would people's behaviour on Facebook transfer into real life? Some British funnymen show us on the clip below.

Enjoy your Facebooking!

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Matt Akersten - 9th October 2009