The Best of Twenty Things Not To Do On Facebook

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase
There have been lists and tips galore about what one could broadly term 'Facebook Etiquette' or, to be more direct, a list of things not-to-do on Facebook. Some of these lists have been short and sweet and others rather long and detailed. Having seen a good number of them over the months and years, here is  my compilation of 'The Best of Twenty Things Not To Do on Facebook'. If you have come across several of these earlier, you are quite right. It's a compilation remember, though I have added a few of my own. Here they are, in no particular order of priority.

I. Do not send stupid gifts

Unless you’re sending a RW coupon that can be printed out and traded in for gold bricks, stop sending gifts. They are useless. It doesn’t matter if you send a flower or a BMW, they all have the same inherent worth: $0.00! When you send these gifts, it leaves your friend with two options: he/she can ignore it and risk pissing you off (since you might be a little unstable in the first place, given your penchant for sending imaginary gifts), or return the favour (thusly reinforcing your habit of sending useless pixels).

II.  Do not talk about your pet all the time

Do you want everyone on your friends list to think that the high point of your social life is changing the litter box? If you post about your pet[s] all the time, people may either take sympathy on you or be driven up the wall. If you continue to do it for an extended period of time, they’ll think you’re batshit crazy and may either 'Hide' or 'Unfriend' you, effectively leaving you alone to fall further into the chaos that is your pet-store-esque lot in life.

III.  Do not tag indiscriminately

That tagging feature? It is powerful. When you set it up so that tagged photos show up for friends of friends (or God forbid everyone), you better think real hard about what you post and who you tag. Think about tagging an embarrassing or awkward photo the same way you’d think of sending out a Christmas card to all of your friend’s friends. Would you send your friend’s friends a Christmas card with a photo of your mutual buddy picking his nose? No? Then don’t tag those photos on Facebook or you’ll find yourself unfriended faster than you can Tweet an apology.

IV.  Do not complain about every ache and bump

Seriously, if all you ever list as a status is the latest time you’ve stubbed your toe, gotten a headache, or spent all night trying to push a golf ball-sized kidney stone out of your happy orifice, people aren’t going to want to be near you. Not only are your friends going to assume that you’re a walking freak-bolt-of-lightning-to-the-head-on-a-blue-sky kind of person, but they’ll also figure that the only thing you’ll talk about all night and all day is your inflamed pancreas.

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V.  Do not authorize every App

All those applications you play really add up when the rest of us are forced to see them lined up on our walls. No one really cares if you just saved a duck, extended your farm, broke a mob boss’s neck, or had a beloved gold fish die. What we do care about is having to spend ten minutes every morning hiding the latest app you found. After awhile, we just stop caring and hide YOU. Do you want your last impression on someone to be a series of app notices posted over the course of many hours of every single day, making people think you’re the most lonely and/or pathetic person on their list?

VI.  Do not 'friend' all coworkers, bosses and employers

The coworker thing is variable. If you’ve been working with them for awhile and you’re buddy-buddy, then go ahead and do it. The thing about friending coworkers is that, no matter how close you might be, the game of work politics never ends. If it is you or a friended coworker on the chopping block, don’t be surprised when they pull out a ream of Facebook screenshots showing all your bad habits and “we frown on that” statuses.

While we’re on the topic of coworkers, never, no matter how familiar you are, friend your boss. This is a just a bad problem waiting to get progressively bigger. It only takes one drunken poke binge, enraged status, or a friend with poor tagging etiquette to bring an unhappy tidbit of reality to the limelight. Do you really want to hinge your career on your Facebook page? Better yet, do you want to have to police everything you post just because you worry about what your boss will think?

VII. Do not 'friend' all non-friends

The thing about a friends list is that it’s for friends. Of course family members can fall into this group, but rarely do strangers qualify. When you 'friend' a stranger, you could be falling for any number of traps: family members posing as friends to hear the crude things you say in secret, a spouse/partner pretending to be a stranger and hitting on you to see what you will do, a serial killer neighbour who is watching you update your status via telescope in his bedroom. You just never know.

VIII.  Do not keep requesting stuff

If you send someone a request for a cow, and they subsequently send you a picture of a hamburger, they probably aren’t interested in swapping imaginary gifts. If you keep sending requests and they never send anything back, get a clue: they’re ignoring your requests and soon they’ll be ignoring you (and note that that last sentence rhymes, ‘cuz we’re awesome like that).



X.  Do not use someone's Inbox for Ads or DMs

Sending someone a message via their inbox that happens to be an ad or a DM can be a real turn-off. It could make you look like a spammer, and someone could in fact have your message being reported to Facebook as spam.

XI. Do not send out invites for your events to everyone.

Take the time to create different friend lists and use those lists to weed out who should be invited for any given event. If you have an event going on in Mumbai, it is most unlikely that someone from Christchurch, NZ will  have any inclination of attending.

Facebook profile shown in 2007.Image via Wikipedia

XII. Do not be vulgar or sexual. 

Watch the type of language, conversations and pictures that you post on Facebook. Facebook is not the place to be vulgar or sexual in your words or actions. It can and will be a big turn-off to many that you may hope to network with or deal with in any capacity. If you are a person whose business happens to be family and children’s products or services, but yet you talk like a Jat trucker on Facebook, you will do yourself a lot more harm than good.

XIII.  Do not post photos or videos of your kid’s potty training or comments about your toilet habits. 

Just don’t. It’s gross, embarrassing, and demeaning to the kids. Plus, no one gives a rat’s ass about what you may be doing while seated on the throne.

XIV.  Do not use Facebook for intimate conversations with your own significant others. 

Say what you need to say in person, over the phone, on IM, or over email. No one else cares or needs to follow your conversation or relationship drama or your boasts about what a wonderful person you truly are.

XV. Do not endlessly indulge in narcissism or perpetual self-promotion. 

An occasional link to an article, TV clip, or a newspaper item featuring you, even if as the resident joker, is fine. A daily reminder that you need votes for the “Mad Men” walk-on part competition is just obnoxious.
Picture of notebook screen with Facebook and F...Image via Wikipedia

XVI.  Do not use Facebook as a diet and workout diary. 

Seriously, no one cares if you ate a salad for dinner last night and ran 3.1 miles before work this morning. Who are you trying to impress?

XVII. Don’t join a group that’s basically a funny statement. 

It's fine if you are a fan of the Shahrukh Khan Fan GroupNDTV, any radio station or even a grocery store, or other sites where you might get tips, free coupons or other such items. But joining a group called "I want to slap someone in the face every time they say 'Dude'" is pointless. You’re not going to get any value out of that group, you’re only allowing spammers to find your name on the list of "fans" for the group. If you really do want to slap someone in the face every time they say 'Dude', just put that as your status update. It’s funnier, and then your friends can comment on the statement or even decide to slap you the next time they meet you.

XVIII.  Play games if you will, but don’t be obnoxious about it. 

It’s OK if you want to play Mafia Wars, or build a farm, or play a game of Scrabble (ahem, Lexulous) with a friend. But when the game asks you if you want to publish something to your wall announcing that you just found a secret stash of yellow bananas, hit the "skip" button. Don’t tell the world. And if you’re sending gifts, send them only to your friends who are playing the game with you. Here’s an annexure to Rule XVIII: If you’re no longer playing the game, delete the app, so that some of your friends don’t look like jerks for constantly sending you gifts that you’re not going to use in the game.

XIX.  Don’t enter any contest that is offering a free iPad, iPhone or any other hot gadgets. 

Seriously. You’re not going to win. Go buy some scratch tickets instead.
Some of Facebook's gifts, as displayed in the ...Image via Wikipedia

XX.  Stop posting quotes or song lyrics as your status update.

"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other." – Abraham Lincoln. Wow, I’m impressed that you can use Google, Bing or Yahoo or can access any of at least half-a-dozen sites that compile all such quotes. Come up with your own witty quote or statement, stop borrowing from others. By the way, you could quote me on this if you want.

The phenomenal growth in the number of folks who have signed on to Facebook in the past one year has hardly been matched by growth in the volume of content (see link below). I would imagine that the fairly slight growth in content that has happened is on account of pictures posted by people and if one takes that out, the growth in content could actually turn out to be negative. Be that as it may, if you observe most of the rules mentioned above, while you may not quite have contributed as much as you would like towards the growth of content volume, rest assured that you would have taken giant strides towards minimizing the dis-content of your network of friends.