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August 6, 2010

Rules for Facebooking Responsibly

Facebook. It started as a noun, became a verb, and is now synonymous with “keep everyone, everywhere, up-to-date with every thought that enters your head, whether they want you to or not.” Sigh. Ok folks, time to review the rules for Facebooking responsibly. Get out your pens; there will be a test at the end of class.

Security Security functions are there for a reason. They are there to help keep your information safe. Think twice about publishing your phone number, where you work, or keeping your settings low enough for anyone to wander onto your page. Keeping your settings high helps you control who sees your information. Removing some information help keeps you safe. Obsensibly, your friends and family already know where you live and where you work – your address and your boss’ name don’t need to be on Facebook.

Appropriate This is particularly important if your settings are low, and/or your have your parents, grandparents, and/or boss on your Facebook. (More on that later!) Look at your Facebook profile through their eyes. Are there pictures of you binge drinking? Half-naked? Do your statuses complain about your family/coworkers/boss? Recent legal decisions have set the precedent: things you say/do on Facebook can impact your career. In addition, if you are in the midst of a divorce, child custody case, or currently on WSIB, be extra-concerned about the content; the courts are watching you.

Overshare Yes, updating your status is fun. Tell your friends to enjoy the day, that you hate the weather, or that you’re looking forward to Friday – TGIF, baby! However, if you’re updating your status multiple times a day, you’re probably doing it too often. Also, if your status is more than a couple of lines, you’re saying way too much. We don’t need to know what you ate, what you watched on tv, or what colour of underwear you’ve chosen today. Leave a little something to the imagination. This also goes for couples who over-Facebook. We’ve all seen the wall-to-wall: “Hi schmoopy-poo, you’re in the next room and I wanted to say I loooooooooooooooooooooooooooove you! <3” “Ooooh babykins you’re the sweetest ever ever xoxoxo <3” Barf. That’s what an inbox is for.

Please, Rob Me! DO NOT update the world with your vacation plans. “Headed out of town, see you all next weekend!” Great – in the mean time, I’ll be robbing your house. If your friend comments on your status, your status can end up being seen by their friends – people you might not even know. And considering how people tend to add people they “vaguely remember from high school,” you might want to be careful who knows your whereabouts. This also goes for when other people are going out of town. Don’t post “have a great time in Cuba, see you on the 17th when you get back!” unless you’re secretly hoping someone swipes your friend’s TV.

Privacy of Others You might love to splash pictures of your offspring all over Facebook, but your friends and family members might not. Don’t post pics of kids who don’t belong to you without permission from the parents first. Period. The same goes for putting up pictures of adults; not everyone wants their face on the internet! If someone asks you to please take down their photo, don’t get in a snit. Maybe it’s an unflattering picture, maybe they’re anti-Facebook, or maybe they’re in the Witness Relocation Program. SYou don’t have the right to put up pictures of other people, only yourself. Respect people’s right to say “No thanks, I hate Facebook.”

Passive-Aggressive BS “Jane Smith thinks that people should say things to her face, and not behind her back, like a backstabber.” Oooooh, cue the melodramatic music. Jane Smith is mad at *someone* who is, presumably, on her Facebook. Oooooh. *eye roll* Spare me. Don’t use Facebook as a way to talk smack about other people, especially in an immature, passive-aggressive fashion. I’m so tired of people doing this. Having a problem with a friend or family member? Novel idea: take it up with them. The 500 people who will get this on their newsfeed don’t need to be dragged into it. Drama Queen.

Strangers So I met you at a party, and we chatted for ten minutes. Please don’t suddenly ask if you can Facebook me. It makes it so awkward when I say “No, sorry.” I set my privacy high for a reason: I don’t like people I don’t know peeping into my life. Asking to Facebook after chatting for ten minutes makes you look like a desperate, Facebook stalker. Ew.

Networking Facebook is a great way to network. Yay! That said, don’t abuse it by inundating people with unwanted emails, requests to “like” and “become a fan.” Set up a business profile, let everyone know (“Jane Smith has set up for a profile for her medical practice!”) and if they want to find it, they will. I don’t mind spreading information about my friends’ businesses (for example, I know an excellent RMT) but only if I can actually vouch for their services.

Mom? Dad? Granny? Boss? Be careful about who you choose to “friend.” I’ve heard a lot of stories lately about people writing things or posting photos that get seen by Mom or the boss. Those stories never end well. If you feel you can’t say no to your family or colleagues or boss, you have a couple of options. You can “friend” them with a restricted profile (so they can’t see the whole thing) or you can set up a second account that is more professional/Mom and Dad friendly. Granny probably doesn’t need to see pictures of you doing body shots off that stripper, and your boss doesn’t need to know about that tattoo on your … well, you know.

Ok. Now we all know the rules about Facebooking responsibly. Please, check your profile and edit as necessary. Resist the urge to update us all that you went to the bathroom. Don’t pick fights with people where others can see it. Don’t stalk. Don’t scare your grandparents. Don’t get yourself fired.

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