Facebook Etiquette Everyone Should Follow

More and more time is being spent on Facebook, and more and more people are joining the sites and setting up profiles. Almost everyone in our lives have Facebook accounts, even our grandmothers who haven’t figured out texting or DVR yet (this includes my own).facebook étiquette

As a large part of our lives is now goes onto social media—and is affected by it—there’s a certain standard of behavior and etiquette most feel that the community should adhere to. Facebook doesn’t set these rules, as they do with their rules on nudity/violence, but there is an unspoken (and thus often broken) code of etiquette expected to be upheld on Facebook.

To help your relationships positive and your interactions on social media healthy, make sure you follow these rules to Facebook etiquette.

No Airing Dirty Laundry

Alright, everyone, this is one of my biggest Facebook etiquette pet peeves. Facebook isn’t the best place to go and air your dirty laundry or start confrontations, whether you do so directly or passive aggressively.

“I wish I wasn’t so nice because people who are supposed to be my friends just take advantage of me, you know who you are.”

“If only SOME people could get their crap together I wouldn’t be here right now.”

“I’m so upset with someone who hurt me today I don’t even want to talk about it.”

Facebook is a place for sharing, that is absolutely true, but it was not designed to be a place for people to have passive-aggressive “confrontations” with those who have committed some grievance against them. It’s also not a place to try to bully someone by not naming them directly while still shaming them (a new low for bully cowardice, everyone). After all, a lot of your friends will know the story, and may even chime in, and they definitely know you’re talking about them.

Drama is best handled privately and off-Facebook. After all, you can never take back what you post online—even if you delete it, once it’s out there, it’s out there, and screen shots may have already been taken.

Share Big News Off-Site First

Oh, your sister just got engaged and you found out through Facebook? Your uncle is in the hospital, and you found out because of your cousin’s picture of “hospital coffee” with a sad face as a status update?

I’ve seen both of these things happen to people I know well. It was jarring and upsetting for my friends in both cases.

Whether it’s good news or bad, big news should be told to the important people in your life off-Facebook first, either in person or via phone call. Facebook is great to keep in touch, but it shouldn’t be used as a complete substitute for interaction with those we love most.

Avoid Commenting on Every Post

Having a presence on Facebook is good; interacting with your friends, posting on their walls, and commenting on their status updates are all good things… in moderation.

Once you comment on every single status update on your friends’ walls, you’ve hit lurker status, and we’ve all been there. Especially if you’re a family member (and particularly if you’re from another generation), being a constant part of another user’s page can get old quick. Family members in another generation (aunts, uncles, and parents) should try to be particularly mindful and respectful of some space.

As someone who spends a large portion of their work day on Facebook or monitoring Facebook for work, I can honestly say it’s a bit alarming how much time some people spend on Facebook every day when they’re supposed to be working. You can always detect them because they post on everything they seem to see for four hours straight.

Resist the Temptation to Over Share

This can range from over sharing unwanted medical information to sharing every mundane detail of your life to sharing information that compromises your safety.

Some things just don’t need to go on Facebook. You don’t need to announce that your big house is going to be empty while you go on vacation for a week (post the pictures afterwards). The world doesn’t need to know about how you had to have a toe nail removed due to fungus (and please, no pictures). We also don’t need to know that you drank a soda today.

Keep your posts appropriate (both in number and in content) and you’ll be good to go.

Don’t Trash Your Family

Most people have some family on Facebook, even if it’s just a sibling (I’ve refused to add aunts, parents, and uncles to seek my Facebook more private) as a friend on Facebook. Even if you don’t, and no matter what they’ve done, trashing your family on Facebook is at the top of our what-you-shouldn’t-do-list.

Facebook étiquette
Everyone is connected on the social media family tree.

Family matters should be kept off Facebook, and even if they’ve really wronged you, advertising it on social media makes you look in the wrong, not them.

Don’t Trash Your Job

When you post something on Facebook, even if you have your settings established so only your friends can see your Timeline, the reach of what you post goes far beyond your wall. Whether co-workers see the comments your friends leave on your post (which can show up in their Newsfeeds) or people just talk off Facebook, you could land yourself in a world of hurt.

Especially in today’s economy, you can and will be replaced quickly. People have lost jobs over what they post on Facebook; don’t make the same mistake.

Be Mindful of Tagging Friends

Whether it’s in a post or a picture, think twice before you tag your friends. If your friend played hookie from work to go to the beach with you and you post that picture and tag them in it, you run the risk one their boss could see it and fire them.

This rule is perhaps never more true than in the case of the undesirable photographs. Whether they’re so drunk they think they’re on another planet or they are just making an unattractive face, you should never post pictures of your friends (and definitely never tag your friends in them) when there’s even a thought that they wouldn’t want those images out there. If you’re ever in doubt, ask.

Don’t Instigate Arguments

So someone posted a mildly offensive picture. Or your friend has political or religious views you strongly disagree with.

Arguments do not have to ensue. While it can be tempting to post your own snarky reply or stand up for what you believe in, sometimes it really is just best to let it go. We’ve all seen those Facebook explosions—they may be entertaining from the outside, but you sure don’t make yourself look good.

Something about disagreeing with someone online gives some people the rage of the hulk.

If you really need to say something, it can be said in a private message or off of Facebook entirely. That way they don’t feel publicly attacked; you never know, they may not have meant their post how it came across, or they didn’t realize they’d offend someone.

Hide the post, maybe unfollow that friend, or even take them off your friends list. All of these are acceptable—and preferable—alternatives.


What Facebook etiquette do you think everyone should follow? Do you have anything to add to the list? Add to it by leaving us a comment!