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A Practical Facebook Etiquette (Netiquette) Guide

Posted by envirostats on Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Practical Facebook Etiquette Guide

A Practical Facebook Etiquette Guide

For a printable version of these guideline text in this post, please click on the PDF link below to download.

A Practical Facebook Netiquette Guide, by Minh Tan [23 kB PDF] (last updated Nov 19 2008)

For additional and more comprehensive content on the topics within this post, please see My Facebook Etiquette posts, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and A Detailed Facebook Etiquette Guide. Additionally, avoid potential Facebook trouble when around careless Facebook users.

This document is now also available in Spanish. Many thanks to David Iza for translating!

This post was noted the blog of Regina Lewis of the Do-It-Yourself Network on Nov 19, 2008.



On-line presence profiling, especially on-line social networking with Facebook, is becoming more common as schools and employers screen potential employees and scholarship recipients in yet one more category in their selection processes. This is especially important for teenagers and students who are often too casual in their on-line social networking, with emphasis on Facebook as a dominant player in the market.

This is a practical guide of Facebook etiquette, or “Netiquette”, you can use to customize your Facebook Netiquette. As you read it, check off what you agree, note where and how you want to differ, then create your Facebook Netiquette by writing or typing out all the new guidelines to help you remember them. Put it somewhere easily accessible and/or visible to you for easy reference as you Facebook. Doing this in a group with your friends and/or Parents might also be effective.

Overall Tone
Avoid negativity, especially with feelings and anything about other people

No swearing, even if positively and abbreviated like LMFAO (or not excessively if you do)

Learn to say NO to invitations (Friends, Applications, Groups, certain events not good to publicize)

Do as little as possible, preferably not at all, not the least because poking is so “old school”

Profile Privacy
Set your profile to Only Friends privacy, giving nobody limited access as they should not be your Friend

Only have Friends you’ve met in person, and purge your list a few times a year as friendships fade

Have people in front of whom you need to behave among your Facebook friends as “designated monitors”

Contact Information
Do not list personal contact information (ex. address, phone #, birth year, specific job locations like store)

Don’t update your status more than a few times a day, avoiding statuses directed at one or few people

Defend your Wall by deleting inappropriate comments or counter with reply if you don’t want to delete

Keep tagged photos of yourself under 200, untag the less flattering and inappropriate ones

Minimize tagging to let people tag themselves in photos, and don’t tag anyone in unflattering ways

Use Notes to share something genuine, avoiding personal attacks, “self-surveys” and diatribes

Be selective where you comments, expecting it to be public and what you comment for proper manners

Post Privacy
Control privacy setting each time you post something, sharing Only with Friends most of the time

Minimize Notifications sent, turning off for Applications when adding unless their news are worth sharing

Minimize Applications, especially inappropriate ones, games that waste time, or ones with few users

Groups & Fan Pages
Check details of Groups and Fan Pages before you join, especially for authenticity (ex. authorized pages)

Media/Legal Privacy
Don’t start, join or invite others to groups or pages with news or names withheld by media or law, until after release

Damage Control
Go through your profile and make adjustments to make your profile suit your Netiquette rules, bit by bit

Profile Impression
Occasionally, ask someone for an honest impression they get from your profile and fix it till you’re happy

If you do “inappropriate” things on Facebook, come back and delete it later to minimize visibility & damage

Purging to Update
Purge things a few times a year (ex. bad or outdated photos, Friends, Groups, Fan Pages, Notes, comments)

Don’t get caught up in other people’s inappropriate behaviour, stick to your Netiquette & update it as needed

Overall Approach
Treat your Facebook profile & activity like an informal resumé or media image of yourself, cause it is!

Please share with all you know who Facebook and check this link for periodic updates.


Please feel free to leave comments and I will do my best to give an answer.

Facebook in Real Life


24 Responses to “A Practical Facebook Etiquette (Netiquette) Guide”

  1. I’m very new to FB and am trying to learn to use it to market my jazz vocal CD, gain more recognition as a jazz vocalist and connect for more performing opportunities. Your articles were very helpful in general. Can you suggest a source of basic information about using FB for the kind of marketing I need, or anyone who might be a good mentor for using social network marketing in general? So far, I have not been able to figure it out on my own and most information I’ve seen starts over-my-head.



  2. chini said

    What do you think of your ‘friends’ tagging other people, who are not your friends, in your photos so the friens of your friend can have a looksee? The friend was even tagging people who were not in the photo so they could have a look. I found this was possible even though all my albums are set to ‘viewable by friends only’. I knew this because they were leaving comments on my photos despite not being my friend. Did I find a loophole in FB privacy settings?

  3. minhttan said

    Hi Elli,

    Elli, sorry for the delay but I forgot about the comment. I won’t make any excuses and apologize. To market in FB, you basically have to rely upon your network of friends to share your links. You can set up groups and such, but I don’t know if it would be of that much value for people finding you and translating to sales or bookings.

  4. minhttan said

    Hi Chini,

    Tagging people essentially gives them an override to privacy. Put yourself in the other side. If someone were tagging you in a photo, you’d want to know about it and be able to see it, right? I mean, others are able to see it so why shouldn’t you? I’m not trying to be on Facebook’s side, just trying to help you understand why I think Facebook did this.

    Now, as for tagging people not in the photos just so they could see it, that’s a definitely no-no.

    Solution? Untag them! You can untag anything you want in your photos. I think you even get notification if someone tags someone in a photo, which makes it easier to “police”, meaning you know it went on and who did the tagging.

    After that, let your friend know you do not want them doing that. If they don’t listen, just be friends in real life, and not on Facebook. If a little thing like that will even set them off, you don’t need them as friends. I don’t want to be mean or cold but really, if that’s all that’s holding your friendship together, you’re not losing much.

    Hope that helps.

  5. […] And a handy dandy list of short rules from Envirostats, last dated in November 2008.  http://envirostats.digitalcitizen.ca/2008/11/09/a-practical-facebook-netiquette-guide/ […]

  6. Thank you very much for the blog reference. Your group blog is quite interesting and an excellent read!

  7. Wonderful Facebook How To Guide! People really need to learn these kind of things in school. Facebook can be scary with the amount of information that people share online, I think this guide does a really great job of educating the masses!

  8. Thank you. It is getting a little attention but I hope people like you who find it useful will spread the word about it.

  9. lamentationswithasmile said

    In other words: Dont be yourself, Dont have feelings unless they are happy, be s Stepford Facebooker.
    Because you know, being yourself might offend someone, so we must all act exactly alike so as to keep order and peace and keep the world happy.

    Dude, you live in a box.

    I am so thankful I have people on my facebook that I hardly know that yell and curse and cry when life goes haywire. I know they are real and I love to be able to send them encouraging words and pray for them.

    For anyone who adheres to these rules stay the hell away from me and my facebook where real life, feelings and friendships ensue. 😀

    Stacy Brumley Braswell

  10. Whoa, Nelly! Or Stacy! You completely missed the point.

    Facebook isn’t the real deal of a person. Sad is the person who creates his/her image through Facebook. I don’t live in a box. My friends are full of life and show it, and from what they get done in life from national athletic records to top jobs to entertainment success, I’d be willing to bet they have more life they express than yours! They and I just get our most meaningful doses of each other in real life, 100% real. Facebook is the walled garden and IT is the box. If you’re not on it, you’re very limited what you can do to it aside from look in from the outside. That’s the irony of Facebook.

    My friends curse, cry, yell, shriek in joy, laugh, dance, swagger and such, mostly in real life rather than on Facebook and that’s just the way I like it. Facebook is a tool and a front, and there’s a risk of being misunderstood by just being flippant carelessly about it since those looking in don’t have the same context one’s real friends do. In your life, you might not have anything to do with anybody who’s a bit more “proper”, holding on to scholarships, raises, promotions, etc. But many out there have to deal with that. It might not be fun, but it’s a sacrifice some are willing to make for success, albeit a small sacrifice. After all, it’s not like Facebook is one’s identity, or the ultimate place to be oneself. You do that in real life, and that’s what this guide was meant for.


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