Facebook is a wonderful platform to connect with friends and other members of A.A., (with caution). I do not have to mention that so of the social connection comes with a price. That price might be your anonymity. Are you willing to take the chance to be exposed or risk exposing someone else? Consider, for example, you are sober for 60 days, and you mentioned it in a post and all your A.A. friends give you congratulations. That seems fine, but what if you also friend someone from work? People believe that a Friend request on Facebook is from a friend, sometimes it is, but sometimes it is not. Think about what you post. Are you comfortable with every “friend” knowing your successes and or your failures?
You should not tag or reference someone in your posts, such as a friend from a meeting, an example, “Bill Wilson, it was so good to see you at the 6 am A.A. meeting this morning, Keep up the good work.” Bill Wilson (obviously not a real member of Facebook) may not want you to tag him on anything, because he has been in trouble lately at work and this may confirm he is seeking help and be having his co-workers knowing things that should come with maintaining his anonymity.
You can protect some of your anonymity by belonging to a Closed Group on Facebook. Closed Group messages and images cannot be seen from non-members or found in results of search engines. This creates a level of anonymity and is generally safer. However, there is no way for the admins of those groups to know if a person asking for permission to join is doing so with an honest desire to be a well behaved member. As an example, someone in early sobriety is getting a divorce, and that divorce is becoming an ugly battle over child custody. A member may join and write messages asking for help in this area or that. A friend of the other spouse joins the group to snoop and report. I would advise not to be too personal on any site. When people get too transparent, it makes many feel uncomfortable, or someone commenting like a troll may hurt them. An internet troll is a person who starts quarrels or upsets people to distract and sow discord by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages. While an admin of a closed group can remove members who misbehave, but that only happens after an offense.
Alcoholics Anonymous Guidelines – Internet
A.A. has a member guideline on Internet use as seen through the traditions and common sense.
Facebook and other social networking websites are public in nature. Though users create accounts and utilize usernames and passwords, once on the site, it is a public medium where A.A. members and non-A.A.s mingle.
The platforms in and of themselves do not infringe on our principles of anonymity or any other Traditions. It is the actions of the individual that may cause harm to themselves, to others, or to A.A. as a whole. For that we are, each of us, individually responsible to our fellowship, to ourselves and to our personal higher powers. Using these platforms to provide information about anonymity online may actually strengthen the principle of anonymity at the public level.
Alcoholics Anonymous Understanding Anonymity
A.A. also has a pamphlet on understanding anonymity.
What is the purpose of anonymity in Alcoholics Anonymous? Why is it often referred to as the greatest single protection the Fellowship has to assure its continued existence and growth?
If we look at the history of A.A., from its beginning in 1935 until now, it is clear that anonymity serves two different yet equally vital functions:
When using digital media, A.A. members are responsible for their own anonymity and that of others. When we post, text, or blog, we should assume that we are publishing at the public level. When we break our anonymity in these forums, we may inadvertently break the anonymity of others.
One way of protecting your anonymity is to limit your activity to closed groups on Facebook. A closed group requires permission to join. Often with one or more questions to qualify you. Some groups are closed and private. Private groups cannot be found when searched inside Facebook or by search engines like Google. To know of private groups, you must be invited into these groups. I belong to one group which is my old Alano Club in Southern California.
Below are some closed and open groups on Facebook. I have been a member of some of them. I cannot recommend one over another; I am only listing them. Some groups have A.A. traditions, while others may not be necessarily interested in the A.A.s view on things.
I would suggest joining one or more (I belong to four of them). It is an excellent opportunity to answer questions to people looking for help. A 12 Step work of being of service and you should be ready to respond to anyone or give them help recover from alcoholism.
You can get your feelings hurt, so at first watch and observe. You may want to “Like” posts or comments in a safe way. You do not have to get involved in all things and all the posts. I turn off notifications to posts after a few hours. Facebook will notify me of every comment when I congratulate someone on 30 days of being sober. Those comments can run into hundreds. I only want to see the notification that has value to me.
Alcoholics Anonymous (closed)
This group is not related to GSO or AAWS. 35,600 + members
Sober Living (closed)
11,600 + members
Sober Movement (Group) (closed)
Sober Evolution (closed)
6,300 + members
Sober and Serious (closed)
12 Steps to Freedom (closed)
Friends of Bill and Bob (closed)
64,500 + members
Friends of Bill W. & Dr. Bob (open, page)
Alcoholics Anonymous Member’s (open, page)
Obviously, it is your choice of how much you want to expose your identity to the public. For example, Facebook connects the dots. You get someone’s phone number at a meeting and a first name, Bill, you may get the last letter W of his last name. In your contact list, you add Bill W. 503-555-2323, and Facebook will read your contacts (with your permission in its settings) finds this individual by his phone number and suggests you should become friends with Bill Wilson. Oh, his last name is Wilson, got it.
To protect some of my anonymity, I do not use my real name on Facebook. They seem like a real person’s name. Facebook requires that members use their real names, however, since Facebook has violated everyone’s privacy including my own, I feel it is in my best interest to protect my privacy. If they challenge me and require me to use my real name. I will delete my account and move on with my life.