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Instagram Polls are NOT Anonymous, So Be Careful

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Instagram recently introduced a new poll feature.  It allows users to put a “vote” on their Story.  Then their followers can vote on their poll.  Apparently, people thought the voting was anonymous.  Sorry, friends.  That’s the whole point.  You poll your followers and everyone can see the results.  Some are complaining because they thought it was like Twitter, where the poll results are anonymous.  Which makes you wonder whether these should be anonymous or not.

I work in a highly regulated industry, where my organization has to file a compliance report with the government.  There are times that we need to provide the government with feedback, without feeling like we are going to be punished for being honest.  So, in those, cases it makes sense that we provide anonymous feedback. But this is Instagram.  Not a governmental body.  They are trying to promote sharing of your story or your ideas.  Rather than keeping them private.

Several people panicked on social media when they realized the polls weren’t anonymous.  They’re panicked, however, because their answer was rude.  Not because their privacy was breached.   Should we be taking this so seriously?  One Instagram user took to Twitter and said:  “Just did a poll on Instagram.  Not sure how I feel about seeing people’s answers.  Those that said no to seeing my wedding photos.  I see you.”  That one is funny right?  You’re saying what everyone else wants to, but are too afraid to.

It’s also funny because they thought the polls were anonymous and now they’re outed as not wanting to see this person’s wedding photos.  But again, this is a funny example. When I logged onto Instagram this morning, one of the people that I follow was messing around with the poll feature.  They were fun polls, I think.  They didn’t appear to be too serious of questions.  Or if they were serious questions, they were there to elicit some feedback and conversation.  Which I think is great.

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The whole idea of social media, in my opinion, is to promote a conversation.  It doesn’t always have to be one that you agree with.  I recently saw a quote that said something to the effect of – we don’t have to agree with each other in order to be nice to each other.  And I think that’s true for social media as well.  But at the same time, there are things you have to take with a grain of salt.  Yes, I’m flip-flopping here.  In general, you should be nice to people.  Period.

But you can also be playful with them.  And maybe honesty is the best policy here.  One of the reasons I left Facebook was because I didn’t want to see people’s posts.  I got to the point where I was annoyed with what they had to display.  No offence, former Facebook friends.  And not everyone.  But collectively for sure.  I’m not saying that I should have let them know when they were being annoyed, but if you ask the question – why wouldn’t I answer with honesty.

Take the wedding photo example that I mentioned.  There are a lot of people who post endless photos of their kids or their cats, or their new babies etc.  And yes – I post photos of my nephew, but not every day.  And I recognize that some people just don’t want to see pictures of him.  That’s cool.  If I posted a poll, however, asking if people wanted more pictures of him, I wouldn’t be offended if some people said no.  That’s their prerogative.  They don’t have to look.  Just like I don’t have to look at the things that I don’t like.

My point is – these are supposed to be fun.  Stop taking them so seriously.  But also, don’t be an idiot.  Don’t say rude things to people on social media.  There’s a fine line between joking and being rude.  And in some cases, people are being rude with these polls.  It’s a hard one to have a final verdict on, but in general just play nice.

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