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A Detailed Facebook Etiquette Guide

Posted by envirostats on Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This is a practical guide of some Facebook etiquette you might consider as starting points for your Facebook etiquette decisions. It is an abbreviated version of my three entries on my Facebook etiquette (part 1, part 2, part 3), where details and justifications were shared, and a longer version of my handy one page Practical Facebook Etiquette Guide. Please check those entries if you want to know more about the details and why I suggest some of these points.

Overall approach and mindset for everything
– Be positive all the time, especially with feelings (or avoid negativity if that is more meaningful)
– No swearing, even abbreviated swearing (or not excessively if you do the latter)
– Control privacy setting each time you post something, sharing Only with Friends almost all the time
– Have people in front of whom you need to behave among your Facebook friends as “designated monitors”
– If you do “inappropriate” things on Facebook, come back and delete it later to minimize visibility & damage
– Don’t get caught up in your friends or other people’s inappropriate behaviour, stick to your guns
– Treat your Facebook profile & activity like an informal resumé or media image of yourself, cause it is!

– Decide the minimum amount of what you want to notify others about and set it, not notify everything
– Check off nothing for Privacy, Newsfeed, Wall, and minimize application notification (ex. photos, notes)
– Set Notification Off for applications when you add them, unless they say something positive about you

Profile Visibility
– Use Only Friends privacy setting
– No limited profile access to anyone as if you’re that worried about them, they shouldn’t be your friends
– Profile visibility settings override blocking so blocked people can still see your profile if it is public

– Only people you’ve met in real life, choosing others carefully with validations from others you trust
– There is nothing wrong with rejecting people’s Friends Request on Facebook
– Update your Friends list by purging it once a season or a few times a year

Profile information
– Do not show personal contact information like addresses and home phones, personal cellular, etc.
– Do not list year of your birth (not even birthdays if you can bear it)
– Do not put anything about yourself that is less than flattering unless it’s obvious (ex. you smoke)

– Delete offensive or inappropriate comments, or counter with reply if you don’t want to delete something
– Avoid negative comments about others and especially those at work and/or your workplace
– It’s your Wall so control what shows up there, including notifications from applications & your comments

Status Updates
– Avoid updating more than a few times a day
– Avoid negative comments, especially feelings, news about others and news directed only at certain others
– Be careful about humour because “universal” humour that don’t offend is usually not very liberal

– You can have too many tagged photos of yourself (200 good shots should suffice)
– Untag less than flattering photos tagged by others, weeks after if you want to do it quietly or ask them
– No “inappropriate” photos (ex. sexually suggestive, drunk, obscene acts & gestures, by you or others)
– No photos that suggest bad behaviour even if photos are OK (ex. group shot for questionable activities)

Use Notes to demonstrate something good about you (ex. writing skills, thinking abilities, topic interest)
– Avoid diatribes, attacks on people you know, “survey” Notes (especially stupid or personal info ones)
– If you use Notes as a journal, realize it is a public journal and not a private diary

– Don’t tag others in things you wouldn’t want to be tagged if it were you being tagged (ex. bad photo)
– Don’t tag others in things you don’t think they’d want to be tagged (their standards may be stricter)

– Be selective where you comment, avoiding Walls & status unless you want all of someone’s friends to see it
– Think of all comments as being public to all and behave accordingly with your comments
– Avoid swearing, even in abbreviated form, doing it sparsely if you have to and maybe removing it later
– Avoid inappropriate comments, especially if you don’t know what someone’s “limits” are
– Remove someone’s comments from anything belonging to you if it’s beyond your “limits”

– Minimize Applications that play with your friends because they will take up a lot of your time
– Ask if an Application will benefit you and your profile image before adding (learning Applications are good)
– If an Application has few users, that’s a good sign not to sign up (check later to see if it becomes popular)
– Turn off Notifications on Applications unless it is something you really want to share, and not too often
– Scrutinize Applications invites and learn to say “no”

Groups and Fan Pages
You will be judged guilty by association so be careful the Groups and Fan Pages you join
– Learn about who is behind the Groups and especially Fan Pages, and avoid “unauthorized” ones
– Update and purge your Groups and Fan Pages a few times a year, especially for dead or bad ones
– Scrutinize Group invites and learn to say “no”

Creating Your Facebook Etiquette
– Reread these guidelines, decide and make note how you’d alter them to create your Facebook etiquette
– Write out or type your Facebook etiquette because doing this really helps people remember commitments
– Put your etiquette somewhere easily accessible (ex. by your computer, post & bookmark, write a note)

Damage Control
– Go through your profile and make adjustments, bit by bit, to make your profile suit your etiquette
– Go back to your past actions (or recent past, especially those visible on your Wall now) and fix accordingly
– Recall any glaring or nasty back actions, or at any time that you do in the future, find and fix accordingly

Future Practices
– Keep in mind what you committed to for your etiquette, and check against your posting of them to be sure
– Revise your etiquette where and when necessary as Facebook will change with new features & new threats
– Once in a while, ask someone who is honest with you to tell you the impression they get from your profile
– Until that impression is something you are happy with, keep fixing your profile

Please share with your Facebook friends & check this posting for periodic updates.

If you would like an abbrievated one page version of the most important points here, in my opinion, please have a look at my Practical Facebook Etiquette (Netiquette) Guide entry (with PDF), where you can customize your own Facebook etiquette. Please feel free to share this or other postings on this blog, as well as files. I will be happy to share my thoughts on any questions you might have relating to Facebook etiquette if you leave a comment.

Thank you very much for reading.

Facebook in Real Life


9 Responses to “A Detailed Facebook Etiquette Guide”

  1. Lori F said

    Good Afternoon,
    Thank you for this terrific guide on facebook.

    I am confounded by this: Blocking people. Facebook states that blocked people will NOT be able to find a profile, in any form, within any facebook search. Your guide emphasizes otherwise. If this is so, then why would fb offer a (seemingly useless) blocking feature to begin with?

    And, I understand that the only way to make a listing available to potential new friends is to set it to “viewable by everyone” (not limited to friends, for ex). I don’t follow the recommendation to limit that setting.

    I appreciate any clarification and thank you for your time.

  2. minhttan said

    Hi Lori,

    Thank you for your interest. I hope you found some of the materials useful.

    With regards to blocking people. It’s a little complicated and I did not want to go into all the tech details in one sentence bullet instructions. However, from experimentation, here was what I found.

    Let’s say John blocked me, but that John had his profile publicly viewable. You’re right about what Facebook said. I can’t find John in a search. However, if, say, John and I belonged to the same group, which is possible if John and I had been Facebook friends since friends have common interests and share things with each other. If John is a moderator, there will be a link to his name and I can click on that and see his profile. I can’t remember if that worked if he were just a group member who, say, posted a comment where a link was also there, but the moderator situation I remembered clearly because it was evidence I needed to know public profiles overrode blocking.

    As for making a listing available to potential new friends, if you set it on viewable by friends only, with a clear photo of your face, people should still be able to find you and recognize you to add. If you were hoping they’d be your new friend by checking out your profile, then that’s different and you are doing the right thing. Personally, I prefer to know someone via some decent level of connection first, that’s all.

    I hope this helps and thanks for your interest again. Please share with friends if you think they might find it useful to at least just think about how they use Facebook.


  3. Lori F said

    Thanks Minh,

    Fortunately the blocked person in question and I have no other connection, so that’s pretty airtight. And I considered the ‘friends only’ viewing option until it occurred to me that there are countless people out there who I’ve known but are not connected to me by a common friend. Someone from childhood found me this way only yesterday.

    One other thing for those interested in privacy: If you set your profile to prevent outside searches from seeing profile info (i.e. Google), then your name will come up in a search for “so and so” + facebook, but the link will lead to a non-working page on facebook. And if you have any searchable help center posts, for example, these *will* surface in an outside search but your name will not be clickable and your profile pic is the generic default.

    Thanks for your reply, and for a wonderful resource.


  4. minhttan said

    You’re very welcome and thanks for adding additional information, knowledge and perspective.


  5. lifelessons4u said

    Thank you for putting together a very informative FB guide. I’m going to share this link/info with others via my FB page.

  6. Thank you very much for doing so. I very much appreciate it and you letting me know.

  7. […] Here’s Digitalcitizen’s Facebook Etiquette/Netiquette guides http://envirostats.digitalcitizen.ca/2008/11/09/a-practical-facebook-netiquette-guide/ http://envirostats.digitalcitizen.ca/2008/11/26/a-detailed-facebook-etiquette-guide/ […]

  8. steve said

    Facebook etiquette‏? Check out this site http://www.lamebook.com , it’s where
    all the poor etiquette from facebook ends up!

  9. free 18andabused

    A Detailed Facebook Etiquette Guide « EnviroStats!

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