It's the digital age and communicating with people all over the world is as easy as signing into the world's largest social network: Facebook. The addictive popularity of Facebook is advantageous for users since the network brings all of the people you know together in one place. Facebook is a great tool to connect your personal and professional life with social networking. Following careful rules regarding what you share and how you share it is essential to prevent detrimental cyberspace mistakes which could have lasting consequences in your real life. Here are 10 Must Follow Facebook Etiquette Rules:
1. Be a filtered version of you.
Facebook is primarily a personal space which links your everyday life with the digital age. Your Facebook profile and all of its content is a direct representation of all facets of what you are, including your personality, your friends, your business associates, your style, your preferences, your location, etc. Maintaining a self-tailored degree of neutrality could prevent any (sometimes costly) mishaps. Design your Facebook persona with colorful palette which represents all of you to the same degree you'd present yourself to a stranger (unless of course you're the apathetic type who blatantly doesn't care about the opinion of others.) Refrain from bashing your ex, boss, and other people who irritate you so as to not alienate yourself or anyone else.
2. Be choosy.
Presumably the entire Internet can view the information on your Facebook account, regardless of your privacy settings, so it's better to be safe than sorry. Be selective in the information you share, whether in your biographical information, your photos, or your posts. Though you decide who may see your information, social networks only care about monetizing their services. To do so, they share as much information with as many people as they can. Share only the pictures, posts, and information you wouldn't mind sharing with the entire world and adjust your privacy settings accordingly to ensure your information remains where you choose for it to go.
3. Only befriend people you would talk to on the street.
Accepting or sending friend requests from people you hardly know makes for information overload. Would you really want to give near strangers an evolving look into the terrible week, month, or year you've had? Compliments of the information you post to your Facebook account, anyone you befriend may eventually store all of the seemingly useless information you make available via Newsfeed updates, and make assumptions regarding you. And conversely, you could do the same. Who really needs running updates on people you hardly know?
4. Don't stalk, gawk, or hawk.
Based upon an unofficial study, there are three types of Facebook users: those who keep tabs on others by stalking their Facebook profiles, those who gawk endlessly about their daily experiences, and those who hawk with good or malicious intent, preying on Newsfeeds to collect information. That said, it's best to find a nice moderate balance between saying too much, saying to little, or saying nothing at all. Facebook was devised to bring out everyone's inner narcissistic demons. Be sure to tame the beast with careful moderation.
5. Keep it a mystery.
Everyone loves a mystery. Keep your posts short and sweet with concise, thoughtful words. Avoid rants and ramblings. Maintaining a certain degree of mystery will draw the interest of the audience and also prevent unnecessary drama. Facebook is not a journal. Act accordingly.
6. Make new friends quickly.
If you encounter and meet someone you would like to know more about, friend quickly. Send a friend request within a day or two of your initial introduction so the person doesn't forget who you are. Just remember that the person may not accept your friend request but life provides many opportunities to make more. The number of primary social partners for an average person is approximately 12 people in real life though the average number of friends on a social network is somewhere around 150. Remember that as your real life mingles with your Internet life, numbers must expand or decrease accordingly.
If you've collected a large Facebook following in the form of friends from your past but would rather not have them in your present, purge them. Keep your digital life as neat and tidy as your real life. There's no need to maintain contact with or clog up your Newsfeed with information from near strangers. Don't keep tab on your ex or his or her friends via social networking. There's no rule against de-friending anyone you don't want in your life. If you're questioned about the process, fib and say it must have been a technical issue.
8. Don't spam or force games and other apps on your friends.
Spamming people is not a good idea, neither is sending game or application requests. Not everyone is into Farmville, Cafe World, or Mob Wars. Avoid the social network clutter altogether by not engaging in spamming or other forms of junk. Suffer the consequences if you do.
9. Preserve dignity.
The point of social networking is to bring people together, not alienate them.
Not everyone you're friends with needs to know about the things you'll be doing to your husband after you sign out of Facebook. And most folks decide for themselves when beer o'clock is. Remember to keep real life plans out of the public eye and use chat or email functions to preserve your real life digital dignity.
10. If you're going to be dishonest, don't get caught on Facebook.
There are no laws against lying but just because you can, does not mean you should. If you must lie, be careful not to get caught on Facebook. Calling in sick to work with a "stomach bug" after a night of partying like it's 1999, is your business unless you livestream images and post the details of your wild evenings. Also be certain to step out of a camera's flash if you're out and about in places with Facebook pages. It'll be certain to save you the trouble of backpedaling when your girlfriend sees pictures of you at a local pub after you told her you stayed in for the night.
Your Facebook life should mirror your real life. A little restraint goes a l-o-n-g way and thoughtful consideration goes even farther. Prevent any social blunders in the Facebook forum by preserving a healthy space between your online persona and real life activities.