Facebook Etiquette - Manners for the Modern Woman

by - Monday, June 06, 2011

These days, almost all of us will operate a Facebook account, whether to keep up with family and friends or extend our social reach.

Image credit: Carbonnyc,

Like all modern technologies, there are no hard-and-fast rules for how we should operate our accounts, but there are guidelines we could follow in order to avoid embarrassing ourselves or others.

Make use of these etiquettes as you see fit and help make Facebook a more appealing place to socialise.

Be mindful of what you post, whether this be status updates or photos from your Saturday night out. 

Amidst your close circle of understanding friends, you'll likely have a mix of family members, colleagues or potential employers - are you sure you really want to post that existential thought?

What may seem to be a general statement can easily be regarded as criticism or taken badly out of context.  Think about everything before you post it to ensure it doesn't give the wrong impression.

Use discretion when posting on others' walls - remember, Facebook walls are public spaces and should be treated as such.

Avoid posting anything too personal or having an entire conversation on other people's walls. Not only could this be degrading to your friend, it could damage the way you are perceived by other people (many of whom you will not personally know).

Image credit: Jesslee Cuizon

Deliver important or personal news in person!  This is common sense, not to mention general social manners.

I'm sure you'd prefer to hear about a friend's engagement or a tragic bereavement through a phone call or face-to-face interaction. Be mindful of this, and deliver news personally rather than the detachment of online conversation.

Keep photos of yourself to a minimum, especially those which are taken when holding the camera away from yourself, or in which you are scantily dressed.

Posting many pictures of oneself gives the impression of vanity or crudeness. Be more classy by choosing self-portraits carefully.

Along a similar note, it's also advisable to -

Remove compromising photos of yourself - you never know who will see them! 

I'd imagine most Glamumous readers would be more than careful in preventing such images of themselves being posted online, but be sure to check occasionally in case one slips by and finds its way to a friends' Facebook wall. In this case, a polite message to the poster should suffice (in the least, remove the "tag" linking it to your profile!).

Image credit: vintagedept

Only "friend" people you genuinely know. 

There seems to be a notion that the number of Facebook friends one has is an indication of one's popularity in real life. Realistically, this is far from true.

Those who "appear" to have hundreds of friends give the impression of being desperate enough to randomly add strangers to their network in false hopes of seeming popularity.

If there's someone you would genuinely like to know but haven't yet been introduced to, the polite approach would be to suggest an introduction through a mutual friend or some other means of real-life interaction.

On a similar note, don't be afraid to say "no" to friend requests from strangers!

Don't update your status every 5 minutes! On Facebook, the quality of updates is far more important than quantity.

Those who post pointless updates detailing every single little thing they do throughout the day are the most likely to be de-friended. Post only significant updates, links and comments, being mindful of the impression you make of yourself.

Choose apps and associations carefully. Less is more!

Don't overload your profile with useless applications, particularly those which update your profile more than you do personally. No-one enjoys having their news-feed crammed with meaningless updates!

Demonstrate similar discretion when choosing which groups to join and which pages to "favourite". Your choices say a lot about you, so it's probably best to avoid "Saturday Night Binge Drinking" or "Cougar Moms" if you're at all concerned about others' judgement!

Never use Facebook to vent about work if you care about your professional impression!

No matter how securely you set your Facebook permissions, there is still a chance that an employer or important contact could see it. Be courteous enough to maintain your opinions on a more personal, less public level.

Image credit: Courtney Carmody

Avoid posting chain status updates unless you truly believe in the cause.

Chain statuses are like annoying chain mail letters, though usually are published in support of a worthy cause. Awareness of the cause is brought about by friends posting updates ad encouraging their friends to do the same.

Unfortunately when one's news feed is filled with duplicates this breeds annoyance, a negative emotion which is transferred to the cause. Post chain statuses sparingly, and only when the cause is of particular importance to you and those around you.

Respond promptly to messages and comments, just as you would when receiving regular email.

If a friend has taken the time to send a message or post commentary which requires a response, it's simply courteous to do so in a timely manner.

Maintain caution when changing your relationship status, particularly when beginning or ending a relationship.

When a relationship is in its infancy, you probably won't want details spread all over your public wall, but on the same hand it's discourteous for your status to declare you as "single". Similarly, when a relationship has ended it's important to avoid humiliating yourself or your ex.

In these circumstances, the ideal approach is to hide relationship status updates and avoid them cropping up in the news feeds of your friends.

So far as I can tell, there is only one sure-fire way of hiding a change in your relationship status:
  1. While logged into your Facebook account, click the "Account" tab, and select "Privacy Settings". This page will display details of who can see any aspect of your Facebook profile, including "Family and relationships".
  2. Click "Customise settings" near the bottom of this page, then under "Relationships" on the next page, select "Other" for advanced privacy settings related to this information.
  3. From the drop-down menu in the ensuing pop-up screen, select "Only Me" and save.
Now no-one except yourself will be able to see your relationship status or receive notification when you change it. Your friends will only know that your relationship status is hidden if they visit your profile page.

Image credit: Camoodles

What are your opinions on Facebook etiquette?

Would you add any additional advice to this list? Do you think these suggestions prescriptive, inappropriate or outdated?

Please feel free to leave your own comments and suggestions using the "Post a comment" button below.

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