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October 28, 2013

The Day I Went Viral

Social media's newest manners maven Randi Zuckerberg opens up about her biggest Facebook gaffe.

randi zuckerberg

Photo Credit: Stephanie Rausser/Corbis

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My sister Donna is an amazing cook, and last Christmas she was making Peking duck in honor of our family's modern Jewish tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas. We're all so busy that it's a real treat to get together.

Everyone was gathered in the kitchen, clearing dishes and drinking coffee, while my brother [Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg] demonstrated the brand-new Poke app that Facebook had launched earlier that week. Through the app, you could send someone a message that would vanish in 10 seconds. We'd all downloaded Poke to try it out. I thought it was funny that here we were, standing around the kitchen counter, everyone looking down at their phones, sending one another messages on Poke. So I snapped a photo of the scene and uploaded it to Facebook.

I knew there was a chance that picture would leak—I never post anything online that I wouldn't feel comfortable being reprinted on the front page of a newspaper. And this photo was the holy grail of tech photos: Facebook family, using Facebook, on Facebook. But I thought surely Christmas was a night when everyone could appreciate our family photo without going, "OMG! Look! I need to blog this!"

About an hour later, I took a quick glance at Twitter and did a double take. Someone had taken the photo and re-posted it. That meant that one of my Facebook friends had seen the photo, downloaded it or taken a screen shot of it, saved it to his or her phone or computer, then uploaded it to a totally different site. I fired off a Twitter response expressing my frustration. Then I went to bed.

The next morning, practically every news station was talking about my Twitter exchange. Obviously people were greatly enjoying the Schadenfreude of a Zuckerberg getting mixed up in anything that had to do with Facebook and privacy. But it really wasn't about that at all. This was about the gray areas of sharing, social conduct, and online etiquette.

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