Facebook Etiquette Rules People still Break

With over 600 million users worldwide, Facebook is without a doubt the killer social app! But with so many users, there are bound to those who share too much or cross the line of appropriateness (often unknowingly) and this can put them in a compromising situation with friends, relatives or even employers.

Facebook can be a great tool, as much as it can be great vice. In order to use this powerful networking tool wisely, here are 15 behaviours to avoid.

Top Facebook No-Nos

01. Making Racist Comments

instantShift - Facebook Etiquette Rules People still Break

Not only is racist behavior incredibly offensive, it reflects very poorly on you. Hateful comments seem to be quite prevalent on the Internet because people seem to think they can get away with it. We associate anonymity with the Internet. But Facebook is not anonymous and nothing on the Internet is private.

These types of comments can cost you your friends and even your job, especially if they are directed at a co-worker. While you are free to say whatever you want in the United States, hate speech is something that is not tolerated. You should not say anything on the Internet that you would not say in real life to someone.

02. Using Excessive Profanity

Nowadays, it’ becoming quite common for employers to add their employees to Facebook. With this in mind, employers are more than likely to browse through your profile once in a while. You want to put your best foot forward so that you look like a mature individual. Using foul language and excessive profanity is not the way to do this. The Internet is a public place. You might feel like you can hide something because you are given privacy settings, but this does not mean that someone does not have the right to look at the things that you say in comments, wall posts, and the like. Anything that you put out there is fair game. Current and potential employers want to see how you are professionally and personally and ensure that the two coincide.

03. Uploading Inappropriate Pictures

instantShift - Facebook Etiquette Rules People still Break

Not only will some pictures violate the Facebook Rules and Regulations, but they could get you in to trouble with other professional contacts on the site. Facebook has monitors who will take these things down if they are reported, but the site is so big that they cannot get to everything. If you post too many bad pictures, you could be banned from the site altogether. This means that you will lose all of the value that it has as a networking tool.

04. Tagging Party Pictures

Again, this goes back to your image. You are creating it. Do you really want prospective clients and employers to see you partying? Do you want them to see you upside-down in front of a keg of beer, dressed like a pirate? These things happen, but this is not something that you want your clients to be thinking about while you are sitting in a meeting with them and trying to explain why your company is the best one for the job- because you are professional and respectable.

05. Talking Badly About Bosses And Co-Workers

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Even if you do not think that you added any of them as friends, do not insult them. Word tends to get around when you make things public. Others might see the comments that you have made. You might add your boss at a later date, giving him or her the ability to scroll through your wall posts and see what you have said in the past.

I was working for an online bookseller when one of my co-workers was actually fired for this type of offense. He had forgotten that our supervisor was his friend on Facebook and he posted a tirade about how he hated him. He had been reprimanded that day for forgetting to lock the warehouse when he was the last one to leave for the night and putting the whole company at risk. His angry comments about our boss had to do with his low opinion of our boss’ work ethic and intelligence levels. The post was full of profanity and thinly-veiled threats. When our boss saw the post, he simply called him at home and told him not to come in again. He then took a screen shot of the post so that he would have all of the evidence that he needed to justify the firing.

06. Starting Fights With Your Friends

instantShift - Facebook Etiquette Rules People still Break

You might feel like you can say anything that’s on your mind online, but those conflicts can turn real very quickly. You could even lose friends because of it. I have, sadly, had this experience. It happened because I made the mistake of talking about politics. It started off innocently enough. We were just discussing airport safety levels and the new machines that can take pictures of people as they board planes.

When my friend Sara started to make claims that did not even make any sense, I was annoyed and I lashed out. Before I knew it, we were arguing so violently about it that I felt very awkward the next time I saw her. Facebook makes it tough to keep discussions civil, particularly when two people do not agree about something- but don’t actually have to look each other in the eyes when they make the claim.

07. Insulting Those You Do Not Know

This happens far too often, and new laws about online bullying are making their way to the books. People will really go off on others when they see them posting on other people’s walls. They will sometimes send messages to people insulting the way they look, their style and other personal jabs. Online bullying has led to many social problems. While it is hard to prosecute, this will be made very easy if the person can produce a list of messages that you sent to them when you are in court.

08. Bragging About Illegal Activity

instantShift - Facebook Etiquette Rules People still Break

If the authorities see this, it can be used as evidence against you. Never brag about doing something that was against the law, even in jest. If you were driving drunk and the police let you off, just be happy for your good fortune. Do not brag about it. Police officers also have Facebook. They could look you up in the system and keep an eye out for your car to get you for any little infraction. If you brag about something like robbing a store, something for which an investigation has been started, they could bring you in for questioning because you have made a public admission.

09. Impersonating Someone Else

You cannot use Facebook to make someone else look bad. In the worst case, you could be charged with fraud or slander. If you do this for a joke with your friends, you may be all right but it’s at your own risk. If you post personal information in their status that they did not want the world to know you may very well lose a friend.

10. Deleting People In Anger

instantShift - Facebook Etiquette Rules People still Break

Facebook is a great networking tool. You never want to burn bridges. It may seem very easy to delete a friend because you are mad about something that they did, but the best part about Facebook is that it connects you with everyone. You can use this for business ventures and more. Just because you are mad now does not mean that you will be mad in five years. Take some time to simmer off before you take action.

11. Posting Your Address Or Phone Number

I have done this, and I regret it. This information can be used by Facebook. They own everything that you put up. It has been the goal since the day that the site opened. There are even text messages that creator Mark Zuckerberg sent to one of his friends mere days after the site launched in which he tells his friend just to talk to him if he needs “any of the contact information for Harvard students”. I have read the texts myself. They are short and do not reveal a plan, of course, but they do show Mark’s mindset. He wants to sell the information for money since this is information that all businesses spend thousands of dollars to get every month with advertising and sales. They would gladly pay him instead.

12. Discussing Private Matters

If you do not want others to know about something, keep it off of Facebook. I have seen many posts where people reveal that they are pregnant, that they want to quit their job, or that they just got a DUI. They post this information on one person’s wall, but everyone else can read it. If you ever want to tell someone something that is a secret, or that you do not want the entire world to pass around, use private messages.

13. Accepting Offers To Wire Money

instantShift - Facebook Etiquette Rules People still Break

This is something that may happen in the Facebook Marketplace. You can use this application to list things that you have for sale. This is very helpful. College students will often sell things that they no longer need when they move out. However, people will sometimes come on and ask you to wire money. They will say something about how they are going to write you a check for one thousand dollars, for example, for an item that costs nine hundred. They will then ask you to wire the hundred dollars back to them. When you do, the check will bounce. This sounds easy to avoid, but it is a very common scam.

14. Agreeing To Meet People That You Do Not Know

As with other internet sites, Facebook is a place with predators. These people are not prevalent by any means, but they certainly do exist. They may want to meet you in order to rob you. They may also be looking to meet up with children in order to kidnap them. They will pretend to be other people when they are doing this. For example, a forty-year-old man may pretend to be a thirteen-year-old girl in order to convince another girl to meet up. This is quite dangerous. You should never agree to meet someone that you do not know, even if you think that you have seen pictures of them on their profile. Pictures are very easily stolen or faked.

15. Breaking Up With Your Significant Other

instantShift - Facebook Etiquette Rules People still Break

As ludicrous as it sounds, people use Facebook to break up with their boyfriends and girlfriends. This generally happens with young people who are dating in junior high, but it can happen at other age levels as well. This is a very insulting way to end a relationship. Just because it no longer means anything to you does not mean that it no longer means anything to the other person. You need to end things cordially to lessen the emotional blow if you want to be friends in the future.

When I was younger, I had a friend who was dumped by his girlfriend in this fashion. This was in 2005, when I had just gotten on Facebook. I was with him when he found out, and I have never seen someone get so angry. He logged on and saw that his profile said that he was in a relationship, but not who he was in a relationship with. When he went over to his ex-girlfriend’s page, he saw that she now had a new boyfriend. She called to tell him a few minutes later, but the damage was done.

The most important thing to remember with Facebook is to behave in the same fashion you would in a real social situation. It’s okay to let your personality out, but when it comes at the expense of others you hurt yourself and your reputation.

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  1. Thanks for sharing these No-Nos :)

  2. Hi Mary!

    Excellent post! I especially don’t like when people upload photos with me without my knowledge. This is unacceptable! It would be very nice if everyone followed these rules. I will definitely show this post some of my friends =)

  3. Great tips. I agree with everything, even if I would say it a little differently. I consider your Facebook Tips, good netiquette. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Thanks for the reminders Mary!

  5. Agreeing to meet people just by knowing them through FB is a great threat to privacy and security. Beware of the thousands and thousands of fake FB accounts. Do you know if the FB account of the person you are going to meet is original and the information are true?

    Breaking with boyfriend/girlfriend through FB is really picking up momentum. I would attribute this to the immaturity of those teens.


  6. I’ll do whatever the hell i wawnt! Yea most of them i don’t do except delete people in anger, but they’re people that i delete for good reasons like spamming their awful photography page with pictures off their cellphones..pisses me off!

  7. It baffles me when people post TMI messages on their walls, and for some it includes mean comments about their family members or people that are connected to them on their network. It’s like they think it’s ok since it’s online, but it’s totally not.

  8. I think these are all valid points to go by when using such social networking sites as Facebook, however the majority of these are common sense and shouldn’t really be a factor for the working professional. Also a lot of these issues relate to the relationships between yourself and your work/clients. My advice would be to have two different profiles one for you personal life and another to represent you work. This way you can ensure you keep your work profile appropriate and professional.

  9. I actually deleted my facebook account due to all these dumb people and almost all of them are either friends family or co-workers. A few more things you could of added are making it completely about dating and guys taking pics without a shirt..lameee

  10. i agree with you that harmful things should be avoid to post in FB and some inappropriate pictures should be banned.

  11. I see so many trash-talking about their bosses hehe, its just funny that they don`t know there are snitches :)

  12. Great read.

  13. maybe people are bored from FB now and want change thats why people are bit annoyed or may be the privacy policies.

  14. Most of these rules are very well-written. However, some of them are quite ludicrous. Hereby quoting Rule #2 (probably, very important since it deserved 2nd place): “You want to put your best foot forward so that you look like a mature individual. Using foul language and excessive profanity is not the way to do this.”

    This seem to be written by someone who just got out of a Catholic boarding school. First of all, profanity is an important part of our freedom of speech, it’s an important part of our language history and using profanity in a playful and intelligent sense is everything but immature. Authors have been doing it for years.

    I have a wide professional network, and I use profanity occasionally. It’s not IF you do it, it’s how you do it. And most importantly, it depends on which line of business you belong to. If you’re a lawyer, accountant or representative of a conservative, family oriented organization (or if you belong to this site), you should stay clear of profanity and even party-tagging. But, if you’re a part of a creative, or otherwise free-spirited community, and you’ve branded yourself as someone who occasionally uses profanity, by all means go ahead.
    Facebook is an odd blend of (former) co-workers and friends. But it will never succeed as a career tool. There’s simply too much college humor, spam and people embedding their pet videos from YouTube. So, if you want to appear like you are a real human being use profanity (but with consideration), type correctly (because proper knowledge + profanity is what makes you seem stupid or immature) and by all means tag yourself in social events (violation of your Rule #4. It makes you seem like are a happening, social person who enjoys having fun and meeting new people.

    Other than that, great post. And I do agree with the remaining rules.

  15. 03. Uploading Inappropriate Pictures – very interesting picture :)
    But if seriously, it’s very useful and interesting article. A lot of useful!

  16. Great list. I think all are apropos. Thanks for letting us comment. The comments section can sometimes be as informative as the main article.

    I lost a friend on facebook, due to political views. The argument got out of control and resulted in de-friending. We contact each other now, by email, but not on facebook. There’s a weird competitive vibe there that almost encourages reckless behavior. It all boils down to this. If it is something you don’t mind yelling in the middle of Times Square while surrounded by your friends and family, go ahead and post it. If not, beware.

  17. Re etiquette rules that people break, I think you should add:

    Perhaps under Discussing Private Matters, you could add: Do not expose family matters on Facebook when parents, siblings, relatives, etc. do not get along.

    My daughter-in-law has a habit of doing this regarding her brothers, from whom she is estranged.

  18. 03. Uploading Inappropriate Pictures – very interesting picture
    But if seriously, it’s very useful and interesting article. A lot of useful!

  19. Is it okay to make one single copy for myself, of a photo on FaceBook that lists the professional photogapher’s name by the photo? That’s all.

  20. some one used my photo in facebook account without my knowledge what can i do? block that person and warn that person plese help me

  21. Another big one: don’t send people app requests unless you know they use such apps.

  22. I have reported a Facebook page and Facebook support has replied saying this page does not violate their Community standards.

    I am not sure where to go from here.

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