1. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    Social media used in plot?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by John Franklin Dandridge, Oct 31, 2015.

    It's necessary for my story set in contemporary times that I use social media as a plot device. But I don't want to name Facebook in my book. Or should I? Can I? I feel coming up with a fake name is silly. And it's been done. Any thoughts?
     
  2. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    You could just refer to it as social media?

    Or you could make a name up for it.

    So long as you are not slagging off individual sites, you should have no problem using their real names but if in doubt, check it out with a solicitor/lawyer.
     
  3. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    I have just been using 'social media', but it sounds flat. I'll check into the legalities of it.
     
  4. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    Ew, fictional social media.

    Personally, I get kind of angry when a storyteller tries to pitch some made-up social networking community to me, especially casually, "Oh I saw it on their FaceSpace blog." and expects me to just take it. If you're going to write contemporary, "realistic" (walk out your front door and there you are) stories, you can't pick and choose which cultural things exist and which don't. They all exist. That's my hard-headed opinion, at least.

    Should you name existing, popular social media? If you want realism, I say yes. Yes you better.

    Can you? I have no idea how the legal stuff is handled for that. Better do some research there, as you and @cutecat22 said above.

    What is the actual aversion to naming Facebook, anyway? o_O Just the legal thing? Do you not like Facebook yourself?

    I think the only people who refer to social media sites as "social media sites" are, like... college professors warning their students that photos they post will hamper their ability to get a job.

    "If you post this on social media..."

    But the suave professors I like just flat-out name the thing. :-D

    "I know you wanna Instagram this BUT PAY ATTENTION FOR SAFETY REASONS."
     
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  5. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    There is nothing to stop you naming regular brand names in your text - Nescafe, BMW, Mercedes, Adidas, Heinz, Costco, WalMart, etc etc because although they are trademarked, they are not copyrighted. But I'm not sure if the same applies to things like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. (so long as you are not shaming them).

    I recently paid for permission to reproduce song lyrics in a book - these are different to tradenames as lyrics are the same kind of things as books, they for the intellectual property of someone.

    So off the top of my head, I would say yes you can use them and as @Imaginarily says, if you are writing real, then use real things. If you make up a new networking site, you run the risk of loosing the reader as they stop to question "oh, mushscreen.com, I wonder if that's just for pictures, oh no, the character mentioned a comment, must be like facebook, unless the word count is locked, then it's twitter - where was I? ..."

    A lot of up to date crime shows actually show investigators looking through a missing person's facebook page to see if there are any clues to the person's whereabouts so in that context, go with it.

    But to be on the safe side - check with a legal person!
     
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  6. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    I'm convinced. Going to just use Facebook if it's legally okay. I can't really say what my aversion is to it. It just feels funny. But whenever I use real names of products it feels funny. And I won't be bashing it, only using it as a plot device, a major plot device in a late chapter, in fact. Thanks for the advice.
     
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