21 tips to avoid hairy situations on Facebook
by Keris Lahiff
Facebook can be a fantastic social tool to get in contact with long lost friends, reach potential clients, or stay connected with your community online.
While it has its benefits, there are downsides to Facebook. To control your image online, avoid dangerous situations and steer clear of becoming a pawn to online advertising, there are a few guidelines you should follow. Consider these tips to get the most from your Facebooking experience.
Connecting and social etiquette
It may be online but there are still social norms!
1. Don’t be overcautious – Facebook is to connect with your friends, even those long lost ones, so your real name and profile photo is an easy way for people to search and add you.
2. Look at the profile photo and details of people who send you friend requests before adding them. This way you can check whether you actually know them before adding.
3. Only add those people you know as friends. This isn’t MySpace. People can see right through the ‘I’m-so-popular-I-have-1000-friends’ ruse.
4. When posting pictures, tag the people you know within the picture. This sends them a notification, informing them they have been tagged. This is common courtesy.
5. If anyone posts a photo of you online (especially the ones you’d prefer your workplace to avoid seeing), you have the right to ask them to remove it. Be firm about this if you are uncomfortable with it being online and public to others.
6. Should you mix work with pleasure? This is a difficult situation and depends entirely on your specific circumstances (and the type of workplace). In a highly corporate environment, it is best to avoid ‘friending’ colleagues. However, if in PR, this might be more socially acceptable. Gauge what your workplace’s level of comfort is, as well as what is at stake if something scandalous was posted online.
7. The internet already has enough poor spelling and grammar. Avoid bad spelling mistakes and the excessive use of numbers in place of letters. For example, I <3 speling mistaykes.
8. Think twice before joining certain groups, especially those of a controversial or offensive nature.
Certain things are private
9. As soon as you begin on Facebook, review your privacy settings. These are located in the top right hand corner of the browser once you have logged into your profile. Select the downward arrow under Account and select both Account settings and Privacy settings to customise.
10. Play around with Facebook’s privacy setting to ensure they are at a level you are comfortable with. Certain settings can restrict what people can see on your profile, depending on who they are and whether they are your friend. This could include your pictures, wall or personal and contact information.
11. Don’t be afraid to be restrictive of who you accept as a friend. When you reject friend requests, the person is not notified.
12. When creating photo albums, limit who can see them in the privacy settings, especially for more intimate photos not intended for public viewing.
13. Avoid posting pictures of excessive drinking, illegal activities, abusive or obscene content on Facebook. Employers are increasingly looking to Facebook when making final decisions in recruiting. If you monitor this, you can control your online image.
No junk mail
14. Tailor your Facebook settings so it limits the type of email notifications that come from Facebook. This means you won’t be bombarded by Facebook notifications that are not relevant to you.
15. Facebook has the right to share your stats and email address with third-party advertisers. The more personal information you give to Facebook, the more likely you will receive spam.
16. Don’t post the year you were born. Your age group is a key demographic used by advertisers and you are more likely to receive spam.
17. Don’t put your phone number on your profile. The people who really know you will have it already or know how to get it.
18. For safety’s sake, don’t openly accept an invitation to a party or event. Instead, email the organiser that you are attending. Alternatively, change your privacy settings so if you click attending, it won’t show up on the Facebook mini-feed.
19. Avoid announcing on walls of places you plan to attend or who you will go with, unless you’re in the PR game and doing it for promotional purposes.
20. Report all threats or other inappropriate materials to Facebook and to the authorities, if violent, illegal or disturbing.
A final thought
21. Think of Facebook as a public arena. Before you click submit, think of this – if you wouldn’t do it in the middle of a shopping centre, don’t do it online.
Published on: Wednesday, February 02, 2011