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Top Ten Rules of Facebook Etiquette That Everyone Should Know (and follow)

Updated on August 5, 2012


The Facebook mission is “to make the world more open and connected.” While we are having no problem connecting to Facebook, sometimes our Facebook posts can lead to a disconnection with others. With little to guide us through the ever changing world of technology, we are learning the hard way that what happens on Facebook, doesn’t stay on Facebook. For example, “even though the rate of divorce in the US has remained largely stable in recent years, American divorce lawyers and academics have joined Middle East analysts in picking out Facebook as a leading cause of relationship trouble, with American lawyers now demanding to see their clients' Facebook pages as a matter of course before the start of proceedings.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/mar/08/facebook-us-divorces)

While it would be easy to blame facebook for all of our relationship problems, we should remember that Facebook doesn’t hurt people, people hurt people. By following a few simple rules, so much of the pain and agony we have both felt and inflicted can be prevented. Below is a list of the Top Ten Rules every Facebooker should follow, plus a few more just for good measure. Enjoy!

1.) When eating out at a restaurant with friends or family, don’t catch up with Facebook when you can be catching up with the people sitting at the table with you. Thanks to technological advancements such as Kindles, I-Pads, and Smart Phones we can access Facebook everywhere we go. Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Facebook friends will ‘like’ your comments, but real friends will like you enough to take you out to lunch. When you’re there, show them some courtesy and put the smart phone down!

2.) Don’t make your personal problems public. If you are going to post something specifically directed towards one person, send them a personal ‘message’ instead. Using Facebook to publicly humiliate someone is tacky, immature, and spiteful. You think you’re letting other people know what a jerk someone has been to you, when in reality you are advertising what a jerk you can be to them.

3.) Using Facebook to occasionally promote your business is okay only when it is done okaysionally.We understand that being self employed is challenging and job opportunities are at an all time low. But if you only use Facebook to advertise, your posts look like a running infomercial that we don’t want or need. If this is you, enjoy the free advertising while you have it because sooner rather than later you will be blocked or de-friended, and have no advertising power at all.

4.) Like a post, but if you haven’t commented or liked someone’s post in five years and the first time you make your presence known is to ‘dislike’ their comment, they will dislike you. The positive has to balance the negative.

5.) Nothing says ‘I have no life’ like posting that you are waiting in line somewhere. People like waiting in lines about as much as they like listening to you talk about it. If you’re bored in line, find something creative to say or don’t say anything at all.

6.) Don’t post sexually explicit photos of yourself. If we can see your nipples through your shirt, so can the perverts.

7.) Don’t post photos of others…. unless you have their permission. Otherwise, your photo album of ‘best friends may become “bitter friends.” Most of the time a person thinks a photo looks great if they look great in it. For all you know, your best friend will cringe because your favorite photo was her worst hair day and now the whole world is going to see what she was trying to forget. Also worth mentioning is the possibility that your friends told their parents, bosses, or acquaintances they were going to be somewhere else when in fact they were photographically recorded being somewhere with you instead, uh-oh. If you believe it is better to be safe than sorry, get their permission first.

8.) Choose your words wisely. Like everything else, what we meant to say doesn’t always translate to print. Then again, sometimes it does, but you may end up regretting it later when you realize your boyfriend wasn’t cheating he was actually working late.

9.) Your profile picture should be your profile picture. Nothing is more annoying than when someone’s pets, vacation photos, or kids, fill up the thumbnail where their face should be. That’s what ‘albums’ are for. Put your snapshots of things you love there. How are we supposed to ‘put a name with a face’ when it’s someone else’s face next to your name? Ever tried searching for your friend, John Smith, only to find a hundred other people with the same name and nothing but profile pictures of cartoon characters to tell them apart? You might as well get out a piece of paper, write ‘I’m insecure about my looks’ on it, take a picture of it with your smart phone, and post that as your profile pic because that is the message you’re sending. If we’re Facebook friending you, we already know what you look like. We’ve accepted it, and so should you.

10.) Update your relationship status with your significant other before you update it with the world. You will save yourself the embarrassment of having to update it to ‘single’ the next day.

11.) Don’t poke around. If you are in a significant relationship with someone, this sometimes flirtatious behavior can give the wrong impression, especially when you’re poking people of the opposite sex. Every relationship is different, so check with your partner first. But if you are investing more into your Facebook account than your partner, the only poking you will receive is the one pushing you out the door. Watch this very funny skit that illustrates the point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTwwuIn9inE

12.) Don’t ‘like’ people’s break-ups. At one time or another most of us have suffered along-side a good friend in a bad relationship. We can’t wait until this couple finally breaks up so that we can all move on to bigger and better things. So when our good buddy leaves a sappy status update like, “Just broke up,” we are more than happy to cheer him on with a friendly ‘like’ or a comment validating what an evil witch their former girlfriend was. This is all fine and dandy until your friend reconciles with their ex who then goes back to look at all of the people who ‘liked’ their breakup and now he/she doesn’t like you.

When it comes to friendship, as in all relationships, what took you years to build can only take seconds to destroy. The internet is known for giving a false sense of security to people who forget that what started out as virtual quickly turns personal when the victim is you. When typing our unfiltered opinions onto a computer screen instead of having to say them to someone’s face, we may escape the pain of their wrathful stare but they won’t escape the pain of our hurtful commentary. Words have power. “Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.” --Pearl Strachan.


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    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Numbers one and seven are pet peeves of mine. One other thing I see on FB is situations where you tell a friend or family you can't do something because of this reason or that then you post photos of yourself with other people.

    • Christy Stewart profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Stewart 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Lol funny! You are totally right! But to their credit, this only works because we buy into it!

    • profile image

      Robin 

      5 years ago

      I don't like "vaguebooking". They post vague status updates just to get attention. Examples: "Well, that was dumb", "Today I made a great decision", "Someone should stop them"....

      Tell us what you want to tell us, but don't bait us!

    • Christy Stewart profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Stewart 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thank you Cyber Shelley! My friend and I used to say to each other "T.M.I." when someone was over sharing. "Too much information ;)"!

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 

      5 years ago

      Enjoyed this and the excellent points you made. Funny how people want the world to know everything ensuring that there's nothing left for someone else to discover about you. So boring! Up, interesting and useful

    • profile image

      Lou 

      5 years ago

      Great blog! I wish everyone followed those rules!

    • Christy Stewart profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Stewart 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks Alecia! My grandmother never fails to remind me of 'the good old days' when people used proper etiquette and manners to show others that they care. Most of the time, I like to think that most of the people really don't know what they're doing or not doing to be impolite. So to the answer the question, "Didn't your mama raise you better than that?" they might reply, "No, she didn't." Not her fault really, Mama didn't have facebook!

    • Christy Stewart profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Stewart 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thank you ladies! To aivzdog: Good point. Some people like to use their profile pic to express their personality. Although sometimes insecurity about their looks is also part of their personality, it is for me anyway- something I am working on. Whatever the case, always use grace. I never harp on my friends for not having a profile pic of their face, but when I can find them in a search I sure give my hubby an earfull!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I think you have excellent points. The technology isn't the issue- it is the people using it. It's like people forget basic etiquette when on FB which is sad because it makes you think how many people knew etiquette pre-FB. Great post!

    • aivzdog profile image

      aivzdog 

      5 years ago

      Nice post, only thing is i can't complain when people don't have a photo of themselves. its no big deal to me. to me its supposed to express who they are.

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