woman looking at computer screenBy Dawn Papandrea
As a Facebook user, there's hardly a day that goes by when someone on your friend's list doesn't annoy you. But guess what? You may be guilty of a Facebook faux pas or two as well. We spoke with social media and etiquette experts to learn what your Facebook friends wish they could tell you. Read on for 10 valuable lessons in netiquette. Photo by: Thinkstock
You're the queen of TMI.
As in, you're sharing way too much information. For example, Lisa* from Matawan, NJ, loves logging on to read her friends' good news, but a pal's recent status update-about the dilation of her cervix!-made her shudder. "It's awesome that you're in labor, but do I really need to know that?" So keep the icky health updates and diaper explosion stories off your timeline. Other posts that count as TMI: all the bitter details of your divorce proceedings or specifics of a financial triumph. Sharing those will only make your friends uncomfortable.
Follow these Facebook safety tips.
Stop causing (or continuing) drama.
Avoid vague, passive-aggressive comments like: "Why do people talk behind others' backs? Now I know who my TRUE friends are." "Posts like that are clearly about people you're friends with on Facebook, but won't name," says Anthony Rotolo, a professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies, where he specializes in social media. In short, don't pick or perpetuate fights on Facebook. "It makes you look like you're playing the victim," he says. If you want to work things out with badly behaving friends, work them out offline. And if you don't care to save the friendship, don't announce that on social networking sites.
Your posts offend me.
If the little voice in your head doesn't alert you that something might be off-putting to others, use the "grandmother" rule, suggests Patricia Rossi, etiquette coach, speaker and author of Everyday Etiquette. "If you wouldn't say it to your grandmother, don't post it online," she explains. Also, keep in mind that your friends can't hear your tone of voice when they read what you wrote, says Julie Spira, social media expert and author of the The Rules of Netiquette: How to Mind Your Manners on the Web. This could cause your comment to be taken the wrong way. When in doubt, remember: "If you think it can offend, it will," says Spira. Case in point: "When a pop star who battled drug addiction passed away, I saw people making remarks on social media like 'I'm surprised it took her that long.' It's awful to see people publicly bashing someone who just died," says Spira. If you want to joke around, send a private message to a few friends.
Brush up on your email etiquette.
Stop tagging or posting pictures of my kids!
You may post photos of your son's pool party online so his far-flung grandparents can check them out, but not all parents are comfortable with having their kids' images on display-and rightfully so. "For the same reasons social networks don't permit children under 13 to have a profile page, you should be careful about tagging other people's kids," says Rotolo. Always ask permission before posting or tagging, and keep in mind the content of the photo. "You can inadvertently share a lot of information through photos," warns Rotolo, such as a child's school, favorite playground or home address.
You're clogging up my stream.
If you post what you had for breakfast, what the weather's like and the funny thing your dog did-all before noon-stop the madness! It's irritating to scroll through all those mundane posts, says Spira. Rule of thumb: Limit status updates to no more than four a day unless there's something major going on, or you have something important to say. As far as what you post on other people's walls, remember that it will end up in everyone's feed. Always consider whether a text or email might be more appropriate. "I had lunch with an old friend," shares Nora* from Ft. Lauderdale, FL. "Apparently, she was happy to be back in touch because she wrote this long post about it on my wall. I was embarrassed-it should've been a private message."
See if you rely on social media too much.
No one's life is that perfect.
Jessica* of Queens, NY, finds virtual narcissism annoying. "I hate when people show off their latest fitness feat: 'Just ran 10 miles!' Good for you. Now go run up a tree!" she says. While, it's fine to post about achievements you're proud of, don't overdo it-and skip over-the-top boasts too. Most of your social network isn't interested in knowing about your "genius" son acing his spelling test or your "sent from above" husband's love of ironing. "It's easy to paint a pretty picture, but that gets old, and we don't want to be friends with people like that," says Rossi.
You look ridiculous in that photo.
How you appear in pictures gives an impression of you as a friend, a mate and a potential business partner, reminds Spira. In other words, "We don't want to see your six-pack," she says. Along those lines, one of Rotolo's colleagues was humiliated when she realized she had a drink in her hand in many photos she was tagged in. Even though these were from social gatherings spread out over time, people may have assumed she was a party girl. "Remove photo tags. It takes time, but it can make all of the difference in the world," says Rotolo.
Learn how to look great in every picture.
One word for posting plans I'm not a part of: dislike!
When you publicly invite girlfriends over for coffee, there are going to be people who think, "Where's my invitation?" And that could hurt feelings, says Rossi. "I was upset when a mom posted pictures of her child's birthday party that my kids weren't invited to," says Becky*, from Fort Collins, CO. "The irrational part of me wanted to ask 'Why wasn't my kid invited?' even though there's probably a reasonable explanation, like a maximum number of kids allowed." To avoid unintentionally slighting others, Spira suggests planning get-togethers privately, and being mindful of who can see your photos and your check-ins, the Facebook feature that lets your friends know where you are.
Stop spamming me.
When you incessantly ask for favors, from Farmville game requests to charity donations, you may end up blocked or unfriended. "People will start to feel used," says Rossi. Neverending event invitations can get irritating as well. "One friend is always sending me invites to her clients' marketing events in New York City, but I live in Indiana!" says Jackie* from Indianapolis. "It's lazy to invite your entire friend list. I eventually unfriended her." So be choosy about what requests you make of friends-and how you make them.
Check out 9 things you should never say to friends.
You're too controversial.
If you feel strongly about a cause or hot-button issue (the upcoming election, anyone?), you may be tempted to speak your mind on Facebook. And that's okay, as long as you understand that you're opening yourself up to a wider audience than your inner circle, says Rotolo. "When you post something that's politically charged, it could lead to a heated conversation you weren't expecting," he says. A better idea: Use Facebook's list option to pick which groups of friends see which types of posts.
*Names were changed.Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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