Facebook has been described as many things … a fun way to keep in touch with friends and family, a good way to reconnect with old acquaintances, an addiction, an invasion of privacy, and/or a complete waste of time. It is a hugely popular social networking site that allows users to connect with friends, family and colleagues, play games, share interests, photos and videos and keep in general contact.
How ever you use it, “common sense” is one rule to abide by — here are another 10 things to keep in mind as you go on-line:
1. Be Mindful of Your Postings
You never know who may see your posts. Would you be comfortable if your mother, grandfather, or a future employer were to see what you were sharing? Even with the tightest security settings there is always a risk, and many employers routinely search Facebook for information pertaining to potential job candidates.
2. Style Counts
Texting shortcuts are good for, well, texting. Spell out your words, using correct spelling, punctuation and grammar; over-sharing personal information and obscenities should be avoided. Once again, keep in mind who might ultimately see your posts.
Have you ever been aware of someone excusing himself from an activity due to “another commitment” only to see that person posting on Facebook during that time? If you are going to make excuses, be aware that Facebook records postings on the date and at the exact time they are made.
4. If You Don’t Have Something Nice To Say…
Do you have a need to vent about work? Has a friend or family member done something to upset you? Facebook may not be the place to share your feelings. Should you respond to negative comments posted on your page? It depends on the comment and the poster – sometimes no response is the best answer, while others may warrant an “I appreciate your thoughts on this, thank you.” Yes, it is your page and you are in control, but once it is posted, it’s out there for all time.
5. Personal News
Facebook is a quick, easy way to share information with a large number of people. Yet have you heard the stories about friends learning of important news (ie. pregnancy, divorce, death) before family members have been notified? It happens, a lot, so learn from example and notify those who need to hear the news directly from you before posting the information on line. At the same time, if you learn someone’s important news, ask if it is “available” for posting before you comment publicly.
6. Some Messages Are Better Off Kept Private
Have you noticed that for some, Facebook has replaced email? Making social plans with a group may leave someone feeling left out. Commenting publicly on information that is thought to be kept between close friends may cause hard feelings. Use the private message function, email, or hey, even the phone!
7. Making Those Tough Choices
Some people will accept a request from anyone, while others will do so only if they know the person. Accepting friend requests is a personal choice, but it can get more complicated when the requests come from a co-worker, boss, client or family member. Facebook can be good for building professional relationships, yet at the same time, your personal life is on display to one and all. How much do you really wish to share and with whom? Suppose the friend request comes from a young cousin; not only can your comments be seen, but so can those of your friends. Are they appropriate for a younger viewer?
Facebook does provide you with the ability to create various lists that will limit which postings your contacts will be allowed to see – a great method for dealing with some of these issues. It is also permissible to tell clients, colleagues, co-workers and supervisors that you utilize Facebook for keeping in touch with close friends and/or family but you would like to connect with them via a professional site, such as LinkedIn.
8. Choose Your Photos Carefully
Remember, they may show up anywhere and everywhere, so that photo of you with a martini in each hand is probably not the one you should make public. Do you have one showing a good friend wearing a bathing suit, sitting on a picnic cooler and laughing like a hyena? Not only should you not tag (label) her in it, you probably should not post it at all. Remember that what is posted on-line can have consequences in the real world. Don’t forget to rotate your photos in the proper direction; it makes them much more fun to see.
Your updates are essentially visible to anyone and everyone you are friends with, and by default to those people they are connected to as well. Be careful when it comes to sharing your schedule, vacation plans, location, etc. because what you may consider to be an exciting announcement may actually be alerting someone as to when and for how long your home may be unoccupied.
Along the same lines, posting personal information such as address and date of birth may provide needed details for someone interested in stealing your identity.
Some things are better left private.