Sunday, January 1, 2012

A guide to using Facebook in a politically correct way

Over the past three plus years I have used Facebook as a way to reconnect with friends, keep in touch with people in my life, and share things that are personal to me in a convenient way; as well as to further my exposure to my blog.  I think most people would agree that Facebook makes things easy for you to share...but maybe too easy?

I did a segment a while back on Studio 5 that talked about "Facebook Etiquette" but in an ever-changing social media climate, things become obsolete very quickly, however, having good manners doesn't- which makes my job a little easier.

A few tips on "Facebook Etiquette" if we can call it that (WARNING- opinions follow- not rules):

  • Be careful who you friend.  A vast majority of people out there have good intentions, but some don't, so have a guideline.  Mine is that I must have met them face to face and they must have been (or are currently) a part of my life somehow.  You don't have to accept every friend request you get- be selective.
  • Everything can be shared.  Even with the best of intentions and privacy settings, if a friend chooses to share something that they have access to on your wall, you can't control it.  Bottom line is that you only have control over yourself.
  • Be genuine but don't over share.  It's easy to write things on the end of a phone or computer when we don't have a physical audience of 600 people (or whatever your reach is on your FB profile).  When sharing something, be aware that people can see it, people can talk about it, people can (and probably will) judge it- it's just the way our society works (unfortunately to some degree).  There is nothing wrong with being genuine and sharing, but before you post- think to yourself, "is this an over share?"
  • Pictures can be copied.  In my experience, this came back to me in a very real way (one that I got a great laugh out of though).  I had a friend print a pic of me from Facebook and use it in a white elephant gift exchange for a party I had.  It was cleverly done and one of the most hilarious things I've ever seen (helps that my husband's business partner was the one to open the photograph), however be aware that your photos can be downloaded and copied and you have no control over that once you've shared it.
  • Remember that many businesses will look at your Facebook profile when considering whether to hire you or not.  If you've chosen to have business associates on your Facebook page then be aware that they have a peek into your life.
  • Change is something to be aware of.  Facebook is always changing things, their newest change was to "Timeline" which I thought would be so great.  I could have a cover photo that was more unique and still have a profile pic that showed my face; but- I quickly realized that even with my privacy settings controlled to friends only, Facebook had allowed everything from the time I switched to it's new layout onward to be public- regardless of my settings.  Scary!
  • To delete is permanent.  Again, being behind a computer screen or phone can give us courage that we wouldn't have in real life.  There are many reasons to delete people from our friend list, but be aware that they will know you've done it at some point or another most likely.  It's hurtful to the person who is deleted (having gone through it myself).  I've also been on the other end of deleting- but I try to be careful and have even apologized for it.  Like I said before, there are many valid reasons to remove people from your friend list, but think before acting.
It think that last point has been my main thought; THINK BEFORE ACTING.  It's all too easy to press a button and put something out there that isn't meant to be shared.  We can allow friends and family into our lives and experience the ups and downs with them- but use some restraint...please!  I've seen it happen to celebrities, business associates, and friends.  It's never too late to learn something new.  

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