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Facebook Etiquette 101

Jeannie has been writing online for over 10 years. She covers a wide variety of topics—hobbies, opinions, dating advice, and more!

5 Rules of Etiquette for Making and Keeping Friends on Facebook

5 Rules of Etiquette for Making and Keeping Friends on Facebook

5 Facebook Rules of Etiquette for Everyone

Facebook is probably the most popular social networking website, yet many of us never think about Facebook etiquette. Since social networking is relatively new, we are kind of making up the rules as we go along.

There are some universal rules we can now agree on though. Although some might seem obvious, a few rules of Facebook etiquette seem to be going over some users' heads. This is where I come in.

If you find you are constantly being unfriended or have to explain yourself to your Facebook friends all the time, you could be the problem. You might be offending your friends and not realizing it. That is why I've created this handy-dandy Facebook etiquette guide for people just like you!

1. Don't Post Private Messages on Profile Pages

For some reason, people love posting private messages on their friends' profiles. Perhaps you are one of those people and you did not even realize you could send a private message. Well, you can. This option is perfect for occasions like:

  • Giving someone bad news.
  • Discussing a personal subject, such as, "Hey, I'd like to tell you about my OB/GYN appointment."
  • Attempting to start a fight or resolve an issue.
  • Breaking bad news, such as a death in the family (although a phone call is ever so much nicer in this situation).
  • Asking a private question like, "Hey, did that rash clear up?"
  • Bringing up personal family business.
  • Recommending a perverse movie that perhaps your pal would really enjoy, but he or she would prefer the world (including Grandma) did not find out about it.
  • Sending a job posting when it is not public knowledge your friend is looking for a new job.

As you can see, there are many instances when you should use the message option. Don't just post a statement on someone's page without expecting the world to see it (or better yet, chime in on it, as you won't have the right to get upset when a person you don't know joins the conversation; it does not matter if they were not invited).

Don't post your personal messages in a public place!

How to send a private message on Facebook:

When you go to a friend's profile, just under their photo on the right, you can press the "message" button and send a private message that only that person will see.

2. Don't Just Assume Someone Wants to Friend You

Sure, it is nice when all the cool people we like want to be friends on Facebook. However, that is not always the case. Sometimes people don't want to be Facebook friends, and guess what? That is okay.

You see, Facebook is not your entire existence. Sometimes you are friends with someone in reality that does not want to be Facebook friends. Don't get all sad about it. You can still be friends.... but in real life, which is way better anyway.

Sometimes people don't want to be Facebook friends, but it is nothing personal. For instance, I have family members that do not friend other family members because they are trying to keep drama to a minimum. I also know a few people that use Facebook for purely professional use at work and don't feel the need to have a personal Facebook page or friend anyone outside of work.

That is okay, too! Some people prefer to keep their friend lists down to a minimum and unless you are a best friend or a family member, you are not getting on their list.

You see, all of this is totally acceptable behavior. People have the right to run their Facebook page however they would like. What is not acceptable is to continuously send friend requests and messages to the same person. No means no. Even if you are not getting a response, just accept that as a no and move on. Don't get too sensitive about it.

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The only time you may want to get a little worried is if your Mom is friending everybody you know, but not you. You also might want to be concerned if your spouse does the same.

3. Photo Comments Should Be About the Photo

I don't think I can say this enough and I am pretty sure I have mentioned this in previous Facebook hubs: when posting a comment about a photo, make sure the comment is about the photo. I can't tell you how many times people post some random message that has absolutely nothing to do with the photo.

Once again, that is what the "message" button is for. Of course, if the message you have is a general one and not private, you could go ahead and post the comment on that person's profile page. What you don't want to do is post a ridiculous message that has nothing to do with the photo.

Not only do I find it annoying when people post random comments under a photo, I actually find it to be rude. Sometimes I go out of my way to post a photo that I think is beautiful or funny or special to me in some way.

If I post a photo of my anniversary dinner, I don't want to read comments about why I did not respond to your text, how your day at work went, whether TBS is showing a new Conan episode that night, etc. Keep my photos from having ridiculous comments... or I just might have to hit that delete button!

Example of a Bad Comment for a Photo

Example of a Bad Comment for a Photo

4. Don't Post Inappropriate Photos of Your Friends

As if it is not annoying enough that people feel the need to take embarrassing photos at every event, it is a double whammy when the photos go online. Even worse, then the tagging begins. Yes, let's have everyone enjoy the embarrassing photos!

I do realize there are a number of privacy settings one can use to keep this type of thing at a minimum, but plenty of people do not use them. Instead, these people trust that their friends, family, and co-workers are not a bunch of creeps that are out to humiliate them online. Oh, trusting, foolish people!

If you have embarrassing photos of people on your Facebook friend list, it is best to keep them to yourself unless you know they are really good sports. Please remember that many people are friends with their bosses or co-workers on Facebook.

That photo of your best friend vomiting all over the bartender because she drank too much might be hilarious to you, but it is probably her worst nightmare. Be a pal and keep those photos to yourself.

For goodness sake, while we are on the subject of bad Facebook pictures, stop tagging people in humiliating photos.... unless your friend has already tagged you in an embarrassing photo. Well, then, all bets are off.

5. Stop Clicking the Share Button

This is a pet peeve I have that is not so much about etiquette, but more about being obnoxious. No, you won't ruin anyone's life, but you will annoy the hell out of everyone on your friend list if you constantly share everything you see all the time.

I am friends with a few people that share anything and everything they see online. I am still confused about when they sleep or if they actually work while at their jobs. They share every cute photo they see, any articles they find slightly interesting, and even share the status updates of others. It is all too much.

It turns out, about 75% of my Facebook feed was filled with a bunch of random memes posted by just 2% of my friends. If you are one of these people, please stop!

I understand kitten photos are really cute, but 20 of them in 2 minutes is just not that cute. They aren't even your kittens! So if you fall into this category, try to limit your Facebook sharing. There is a very strong possibility many of your friends have already started unfollowing you. Don't be that person any longer!

Keeping It Real

Even though Facebook is a relatively new form of communication when you compare it to the phone or mail, it has still been around long enough for most users to know some basics. In general, as long as you use some common sense, you should easily be able to use Facebook and not offend others.

If in doubt and you are thinking your post may not be appropriate, then just don't do it. It is as simple as that.

If all else fails, ask someone else's opinion. There are plenty of "Facebook experts" out there who are happy to give opinions. Just don't ask your buddy for advice if he is the one posting embarrassing photos with you in them; this is clearly not the guy that has the best judgment in your group of friends.

© 2015 Jeannie Marie


Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on June 20, 2015:

Thanks for checking out my hub, Wavie. I will check yours out, too.

Wavie on June 20, 2015:

Great article! The share-thing is really annoying. If you want you could check out the article I just wrote about what NOT to post on Facebook. I think we'd agree on a lot of things. Anyway this article was spot on!

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on May 13, 2015:

Thank you, Bob. I also agree there is good and bad aspects to Facebook. It is so nice to see what friends and family members are doing in other states, yet, it also gives us an opportunity to be too nosy. Some people really do use Facebook for all the wrong reasons.

Robert E Smith from Rochester, New York on May 11, 2015:

Hi Jeannie, I think your article was very interesting and useful. I feel that Facebook is a God-send, but at the same time could be someone's undoing. In every good media there are people who just misuse it and will always find a way to make themselves obnoxious or even hurtful and damaging. I think that people get so used to communicating in this medium that they forget how open and accessible it is to anyone that wishes to gather information for mischief or even harm. Thank you for such great writing. Bob.

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on April 19, 2015:

Lawrence, I was just reading a different article about Facebook etiquette this weekend and it discussed how rules needed to be established.... guess I am happy to do it. ;-) And yeah, I could do without all the kitten photos. Thanks for checking out my hub.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on April 18, 2015:

I never really thought about FB having etiquette! I suppose it does and this is a great place to learn. Thanks for the tips.

By the way I'm not great on the kitten photos either!


Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on April 13, 2015:

drbj, I know what you mean about not having the time to share everything. Sometimes I think people are so busy posting what they are doing, they don't have the time to actually do anything.

Kathleen Kerswig, that is a great quote. I have learned away to walk away from the drama unless I absolutely must be a part of it. Thanks for dropping by my hub!

FlourishAnyway, one of my cousins won't friend me on Facebook either, so don't feel bad. Your nephew is probably posting stuff he does not think is "family friendly," but it is probably harmless anyway. And thanks... I started to share some real comments which are way more bizarre, but decided fake was better. ;-)

PegCole17, I can't stand the guilt sharing either. I really hate the posts that say, "If you hate cancer, you will post this. Let's see who reposts this and cares about cancer." So basically, if I don't repost some lame graphic, then I love cancer? Don't think so!

Thanks for the comments, everyone!!

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on April 10, 2015:

These are great guidelines for all FB users and in particular, the kind of users who do the things you've mentioned. I really get peeved when people do guilt sharing - "If you don't share this then I will know you're not really my friend", etc. Can't stand that stuff.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 10, 2015:

I gave my 15 year-old nephew hell recently because he unfriended me on FB. Seriously? The kid friended me (not the other way around) and now I guess he's seen too many cat photos. We'll see if I remember his birthday without the instant reminders. I love the unrelated comments about Dukes of Hazzard and gravy in your FB photo.

Kathleen Kerswig on April 09, 2015:

I saw a great quote on Facebook today. It was "Just because some people are fueled by drama doesn't mean you have to attend the performance." It's from Cheryl Richardson and I think it is right on point. I've often heard this same idea with a slight twist - I don't have to go to every fight I'm invited to. Anyway, we have choices and that's fine by me. Blessings!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on April 09, 2015:

FB seems to fill a need for many folks but I keep my participation to a minimum - just don't have the time to share all that happens in my life. Excellent tips, m'dear, you may be the newest Maven of FB Etiquette.

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on April 09, 2015:

Thanks so much, chateaudumer. I am glad you enjoyed it.

David B Katague from Northern California and the Philippines on April 09, 2015:

I enjoy reading this hub. Keep it real and use common sense in everything you are posting to the world to see! Cheers and Happy Face Booking to all

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on April 09, 2015:

randomcreative, I can't figure it out myself what is so complicated about comments vs. messages, but apparently it is. I've literally explained to people that not all their conversations have to be public... press on the message button!

Dolores Monet, I think adults wanting to act like kids is exactly where a lot of this goes wrong. You are right about the tortured animal photos, too. I don't go on Facebook to be bummed out. I know it happens and I am educated enough without people sharing those horrible photos.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on April 09, 2015:

Great tips for behaving on FB. One friend spent way too much time fighting with her relatives in all caps. Then there was a time when everyone was posting graphic photos of starving or tortured animals. Then there are the friend requests from people on the outs with other people you are friends with and I think they just want to spy on their family members. I realize that FB, once mostly for the young, seems to have been taken over by the older folks. Who want to act like kids.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 08, 2015:

So true all the way across the board. I wish that more people were talking about this topic. I'm not sure how it's so hard for some people to find the right place to post messages and comments or why some people think that anyone wants to read 5 shares per day.

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on April 08, 2015:

I really don't mind Facebook since it allows me to keep up with friends and family I don't get to see often, but I do think people obsess over it too much. I don't get Twitter at all and I think LinkedIn is kind of evil. I am considering writing about that for my next hub. :-) But yeah, I prefer using sites that help earn me money, too.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on April 08, 2015:

Yeah, Twitter is not my favorite. In fact, I wish all the social media sites would just go away. They're time sucks and unless you really know what you're doing (which I don't), they serve no purpose other than showing how many followers you have. It's a full time job just keeping up with them, which I don't. They don't make me money, so what's the point professionally?

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on April 08, 2015:

Kathleen Kerswig, you are right. Facebook can be full of drama depending on how people treat it. I am a big fan of unfollowing people now if they tend to post too much or become too melodramatic. I just don't need that in my life, but it does mean I want to shut that person completely out either.

lambservant, that is a really good example of what frustrates me. I think it is nice when people have conversations, but it is not so nice when it has nothing to do with what I posted. Wouldn't it have been fun to break into their conversation and ask what that had to do with your post?

bravewarrior, you sound like you like Facebook about as much as I like Twitter. I very rarely go on that site and I am sure I do things that break "Twitter etiquette" without realizing it. I am sure you are doing fine on Facebook though. As long as you avoid the incriminating stuff, you are good. :-)

Thanks for the comments, everyone!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on April 08, 2015:

Great advice, Jeannie. I'm not very active on FB, although I do share articles that I feel are worthy of traffic. I rarely purposely go into FB. I rely on my inbox to let me know when someone has sent me a message or tagged me. Then I'll get notification that I've missed a gazillion notifications and pokes. I don't know how I miss them. Well, yes I do, because they don't come to my email inbox. I'm not very FB savvy, but I do know not to post or write anything incriminating.

Lori Colbo from United States on April 07, 2015:

Excellent hub Jeannie. What I hate is when you post something serious or post a photo, and people start conversing in the comments section that have nothing to do with you, or what you shared. I posted something of a serious nature (no drama), I got a few thoughtful comments, then these two people start going back and forth about what a great time they had and let's do it again, and how about Tues. at noon.

Kathleen Kerswig on April 07, 2015:

Great hub! I personally love Facebook. It allows me to stay in touch with so many people. I appreciate the last section here about keeping it real. I gravitate towards those who are genuine and authentic. Facebook does not need to be a place filled with drama. It can actually be a great experience if used appropriately. Thanks for sharing! Blessings!

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on April 07, 2015:

Thank you, Stephanie. Oh, the constant game score people! I forgot them. I might have to incorporate that into the hub. But yeah, I do wonder about some people. They seem to be waiting and staring at Facebook all day. How do they find the time?

Stephanie Henkel from USA on April 07, 2015:

Thankfully, most of my FB friends follow these rules of etiquette, but there are a few who are just too handy with the "likes" and "shares." I do wonder how they can like a picture or status before I even find it on my profile page! And they always seem to be the stalkers who never post anything except their game scores on their own pages...hmmmm...I guess my life is just more interesting. LOL Enjoyed your article as always!

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on April 07, 2015:

Thanks so much! I am glad you liked it.

Britt Chico on April 07, 2015:

Great article!

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