When the comedian Russell Brand was married to the pop singer Katy Perry, he took a morning photograph of her that showed her all bleary-eyed, tousle-haired and cosmetic free, and then he posted it on Twitter for all the world to see. It was not a flattering picture. I dare say Brand found it hilarious at that moment but he quickly thought again and took it down. But it was too late. By then the world had got hold of it and Brand had shown us all that Miss Perry looked pretty ordinary without the slap and that he was a first-class pillock. He shouldn't have done it. He betrayed his wife's trust. It's all too easy with instant networking to do the wrong thing, to make a fool of yourself, to trample over your own and other people's privacy.
Like lots of people I have friends on Facebook who aren't really friends. They are people I might have known for a long time that I don't see much of these days, people who I might stand and have a quick chat with if I meet them at the supermarket but not really people I yearn to socialise with. These are people whose numbers are not in my phone. And now I know too much about them.
Take the woman whose husband has left her - she goes on Facebook on a Saturday night, probably with a bottle of wine in her, and she has a ill-written, misspelt rant about him. She is addressing him directly and what she is saying is not for the eyes of her Facebook friends. They might judge, they might decide that perhaps her ex was well out of it. They might cringe. And afterwards they'd feel soiled that they read this, this thing they never should have read. The next morning the rant was gone but it was too late.
Then today I saw a photograph on Facebook of a woman asleep. Her partner had published it without her knowledge. It was not a flattering picture. It was cruel of her partner to have posted it and I told him so. Soon afterwards I got a private message from him. It was rather cheeky. I used the private messaging to tell him exactly what I thought of his actions then logged out and went to call on a real friend, a friend who wouldn't have a clue what social networking is even though she's only 78 years old. I told myself if my Facebook 'friend' responded to my message in a rude or uncaring manner that I would banish him. I was looking forward to banishing him. When I got back I took a look and he appeared to be repentant. The photograph of his partner had been removed. But it was too late.
He didn't get banished today. But he will.