Facebook etiquette: dos and dont’s

Here are some guidelines on how to keep yourself safe and not offend your friends on Facebook.

Since its launch in 2004, Facebook has taken the world by storm, clocking up to 800 million users by January 2012.

So popular, in fact, that US psychologists have had to come up with the catchy moniker ‘FAD’ which stands for Facebook Addiction Disorder to describe the poor souls who can no longer function on the outside world, but live their entire lives through Facebook.

And why wouldn’t this particular form of social media become addictive? It’s fun and satisfies the voyeur in us all. 

We get to ‘Poke’ random people without it ending in a slap

We get to stalk our exes who treated us poorly and laugh about how pudgy they’re looking these days, and not to mention how great it is to see that the girl who relentlessly bullied you in school now has a miserable life and posts status updates of how terrible her life is since her trailer got repossessed. Guilty pleasures indeed.

But has this form of communication made us lose all our social graces, where we now feel comfortable with sharing our deepest darkest secrets with each other because it’s ‘online’ and doesn’t feel real? 

So much so that we have nursery school teachers feeling comfortable enough to post photos of themselves posing in their favourite black leather outfit holding a feather duster and pouting seductively, teaching your little baby the rights and wrongs by day, and her hubby the rights and wrongs by night?

Too much information

We read about wives outing their husband’s affairs blatantly on status updates, and threatening to take them to the cleaners, only to post an apology the very next day. 

Would this embarrassment not have been spared had they given a minute’s thought to the fact that what has been seen, cannot be unseen by their friends, family and colleagues?

Also, Cyberstalking is a very real danger, and yet there are people on Facebook who like to ‘check-in’ at every given location they arrive at. ‘Barbara is at home’.  ‘Barbara is in the kitchen at home’  ‘Barbara is in the loo at home’.  Really?

There are simple rules we can all follow, a Facebook ‘etiquette’ if you must, to avoid embarrassing situations for yourself, your friends and family, and not to mention your boss, when he reads that you are incredibly hung-over and ‘refuse to go to work today’ when you have in fact just called in to tell him that a family member has died:

Do check your Privacy and Security settings regularly

If you don’t want your boss seeing the photo of you topless with a bottle of tequila in your hand, ensure that you don’t allow tagged photos to be shown publicly.
Do ask your friends’ permission first before tagging unflattering photos of them

What you find funny, they may not. Also, ask friends to remove unflattering photos they have posted of you if you so wish.

Report inappropriate behaviour or photos

Someone constantly posting pictures of naked children for example would be a big red flag and should be reported.

Use good judgement with your status updates

Again, what has been seen cannot be unseen.

Bear in mind that many interviewers for new jobs will check your Facebook profile to get a better idea of the kind of person you are.

Always log out of your Facebook account if using it in a public internet café for example or you could find yourself ‘fraped’.

There is nothing like a 16-year old taking over your open Facebook account and bringing you out of the closet in front of all of your friends and family to brighten your day.

Be cautious of ‘friending’ people you do not know 

The Facebook rapist. Say no more.

Have fun with Facebook, but remember that you are putting yourself out there for 800 million people to see.

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