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All the Rules of Facebook Etiquette

Updated on June 6, 2010

With the prevalence of Facebook in today's society, I thought it would be a great idea to bring together a collection of questions that involve social media etiquette. Essentially, all of the new online forums such as Facebook and Myspace bring about an unprecedented number of "unwritten rules." If your kids have ever told you "you just don't write that on my wall," then you know what I am talking about. This guide aims to answer some of the more common questions about "unspoken rules" of Facebook. If you have more, leave a comment, and I will try to find the answer. All of the answers on here have been collected from a variety of online sources as well as the "Facebook generation" who knows a lot about these sort of things.

Q. How many friends should I have on Facebook?

A. The general rule is about or under 300. However, many people who have been on Facebook since high school have upwards of 500. Basically, you have to judge it based on how well you know the people. If you've been on Facebook for one week and have 1,000 friends, you will become known as a "friend-whore," meaning you just confirm every friend request that comes your way and send out massive amounts of requests yourself. Be careful not to have too many or too few friends.

Q. Should I friend that person I don't really know that well?

A. In short, yes. Facebook friends are very different from real friends. But, if he or she is a creeper or you just have never spoken to them before, it's also acceptable to ignore it. No one will know.

Q. Should I friend my parents on Facebook?

A. In order to keep household harmony, the best answer here is yes. But you can still continue the Facebook life you've been living by putting them on a limited profile as I explain here.

Q. Should I friend my child(ren) on Facebook?

A. Your first instinct is to send a friend request right away. But unless you have a really good relationship with your child, most experts recommend holding off until they are older. Some kids will see it as an invasion of privacy, and Facebook is kind of "their hangout."

Q. What should I do when my boss friend requests me?

A. By all means, don't ignore it. This will definitely create tension in the workplace. You could explain to your boss that you attempt to keep work and social life separate. But if he still insists, just put him on a limited profile.

Q. Should I unfriend my ex on Facebook?

A. No. Unless it's a nasty breakup, people will see that and think you are a "sore loser." It's best just to leave them on as a friend and continue using Facebook as normal. Plus, you can then brag about your new significant other and they'll see!

Q. Is it okay to "poke" someone on Facebook?

A. Technically, although no one really does it anymore. It is just like saying hi, but it can also be weird if the person is not a close friend. Poke with caution.

Q. How many status updates can I post?

A. This isn't Twitter. If you want to tell the world about every detail of every action of your life, get an account there. On Facebook, stick to about a status update a day. More will seem like too much information. You can of course go for a while without posting; one a day is not a minimum.

Q. Should I broadcast my Farmville updates?

No. No. No. No one wants to see 30 updates a day about your strawberries. Please.

Q. Can I join a group?

A. Yes.

Q. Can I join multiple groups a day and spam everyone's wall with how many groups I've joined?

A. No.

Q. Should I wish the person a happy birthday?

A. Probably. Writing on someone's wall to say happy birthday is very acceptable. Many people do it, even if they don't know the person extremely well. If you're friends on Facebook, you can be friendly enough to send some birthday wishes.

Q. Whose wall can I write on?

A. Technically anyone's. But acceptably? Only closer friends and people who need to send a message to. If you barely know them, don't write on their wall.

Q. What can I write on someone's Facebook wall?

A. Remember, the whole world sees it. So anything you think they won't immediately want to delete. And please, if it's your child, please don't write embarrassing stuff. It's an invitation to unfriend you.

Q. When should I send a private message?

A. You have the ability to Private Message anyone. If you don't know them well and need to get in touch with them, a PM is the way to go. Also, if it's embarrassing or incriminating, send a PM. If you're not sure whether you should send a PM or post it on their wall... send a PM.

Q. Should I friend a friend of a friend's?

A. No. Just because a friend of yours friended someone does not mean you need to go and friend them too. This is different if you know them or if they friend request you, but doing that will make you look like a person who clings to his or her friends too much.

Q. Should I talk about someone's Facebook post outside of Facebook?

A. Not unless you need to. Most people post things on Facebook and don't really want to discuss them offline. Honor that and only bring it up if you know they want to talk about it.

Q. Can I view someone else's pictures?

A. Yes, but please don't tell them or other people you do so. Everyone does it, but no one wants to be called a stalker. So you can, just don't let them know you do.

Q. What things are safe to "like?"

A. If you like it, "like" it. Unless it's someone you don't know too well. Liking is technically better than commenting on a post, if you don't know a person well, so you can't go too wrong by liking something. Just don't like anything that you wouldn't normally "like" in real life. Your friend's mom died? Don't like it.


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    • profile image

      sjghaga 5 years ago

      Anon, it is definitely possible to "Like" too many things.

      I have a friend who updates every few weeks. Every single post he makes is liked by the same girl. They're not dating, but it's come to the point where I'm used to seeing his name and the girl's name together when he shows up on my newsfeed. One day I went on his page, and literally everything on his wall was "Liked" by her. Looked at his profile pictures, 80% were "Liked" by her. The only ones that weren't were of him and a different girl.

      Unless it's some sort of inside joke with the person, DON'T like all their shit. Even if it is, remember that people can see that and will judge after a while.

    • profile image

      Eileen 5 years ago

      It's another etiquette question: If someone posts asking people to do something, and you KNOW it is an "urban legend" (e.g., don't buy gas on April 15th) is it rude to send them the link to "Snopes" showing them it is wrong? My intent is to save people from doing something unnecessarily but I don't want to sound like a snow-it-all.


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      MamaBee 5 years ago

      DO NOT "like" every status update and post your family members post on facebook. It's REALLY annoying, creepy, and embarrassing!

    • xnotion profile image

      xnotion 7 years ago

      Oh, well in that case, it's not too bad, but again in moderation. If you "like" 50 posts, that is going to look a bit weird. Try to limit it to, say, 3 or 4 per day and not the same person. Hope this helps!

    • profile image

      Anon 7 years ago

      Hey xnotion,

      I mean liking friends' statuses.

    • xnotion profile image

      xnotion 7 years ago

      Hi Anon,

      Liking things too many times is considered a bit strange, mainly because it will show up in the news feeds of your friends. It can be strange if they see you've "liked" 50 different pages.

    • profile image

      Anon 7 years ago

      Is there such a thing as "liking" too much? Can it become creepy and unwelcome?

    • profile image

      Jebcrg 7 years ago

      Agree with most of this. I have a 17 year old son who keeps me attuned to the vernacilar and I just wanted to mention that people who "stalk" on FB are called "creepers".