Facebook’s mission is to “give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” This all sounds very worthy and far out, but on the flipside the social network can also be a tool for causing a nuisance and generally upsetting the cosmic order of things.
There are plenty of ways to become a menace on Facebook if you’re that way inclined. Here’s a guide to what to avoid doing on the network (or, alternatively, to do them if you’re feeling bored and destructive).
1. Quit with the tags!
Facebook allows you to tag (label) people who appear in your photos, regardless of whether they want to be identified in it or not. But it’s not recommended to tag your friends at random.
The person who uploaded this picture to Facebook has tagged his friends as characters from the Mr Men books. This is a big no-no and is in effect spamming people’s message boards with a silly picture that they probably don’t want to be associated with.
Worse still are those programs that tag your friends as random objects, such as Friends Tagger. If someone tagged me in one of these I would immediately sever all ties with them.
2. Can you keep a secret?
The Facebook wall is a fun way to keep up with your friends, but it’s easy to forget that it’s not confidential. Common sense states that you should send a private message for anything with confidential information, phone numbers, passwords or gossip.
3. Farmers of the World unite!
Facebook is full of gangsters, pirates, gardeners, ninjas, waiters, bakers and other less noble professions that have nothing to do with real work. Anyone who has been asked to help provide straw for a Farmville barn knows exactly what I’m talking about.
If you really value your Facebook friends then don’t pester them for some feed for your chickens or shotgun ammo to take down a Mafia boss. This best way to stop these ghastly messages polluting the timelines of others is to not start playing these ridiculous games in the first place. Go buy an Xbox instead.
4. Coming to my party? It’s at the North Pole
We’re very happy you’ve decided to celebrate your dog’s seventh birthday and yes we’d love to attend the pool party you’re throwing in his honor. Too bad you live in Ecuador and the rest of your friends are living in New York and New Jersey.
Remember to be selective when inviting people to an event rather than all of your Facebook friends. Just send the call to those you know might be able to attend. This way also, you won’t get your old teachers, former bosses and ex girlfriends showing up.
5. It’s called Facebook. So show your face
Use a real photo as your profile picture. People would much rather talk to a human being than a smiling dinosaur, a comic book superhero or a sunset over Mount Fuji.
The same applies to names: nicknames, anagrams and silly made-up pseudonyms aren’t funny and you’ll just look like an idiot. Using your real name also has the benefit of helping people find you more easily when searching through their friends.
6. Don’t tell us everything
So, you think your life is quite interesting? Perhaps it is, but we don’t need to know everything you’re doing all the time like you’re some kind of internet version of the Truman Show or Ed TV.
It’s not just frequency of status updates that you need to be careful with, but also the subject matter. Phrases to be avoided include:
“Gran, I miss you so much but I know you’re in heaven smiling down on me”
“Man, I hate Mondays” (or the equally pointless “Finally, it’s Friday!!!!”)
“Love my wife/husband sooooo much. Kisses and snuggles xxxxxx <3 oo”
Anything about any of your bodily functions
“My baby just…”
7. Don’t look Mom
What is Facebook without embarrassing videos and photos of people getting wasted or pulling outlandish pranks? These are often great fun to look through, but just make sure you’re not in any of them, and leave it to others to ruin their reputations.
Similarly you should think twice before tagging that picture of your co-worker at the office party dancing on a table with his shirt off and a mop on his head. Better to send a message to him first, asking if Mr Mop would like his antics paraded on Facebook for the bosses to see.
8. Do you really like it?
It’s very tempting just to hit that ‘Like’ button every time you see it on Facebook (or elsewhere on the internet). But you should actually think very carefully before liking or becoming a fan of something, especially if the group is called “I hate…” or contains excessive generalizations.
Imagine if you liked a page called “I hate meat” then some weeks later you got a job interview at McDonalds, for example.
9. This is awkward
Facebook Chat can be something of a pain and if you leave it switched on all the time you’re inviting all manner of awkward situations. For instance, a long lost pal may start trying to catch up with you while you’re watching the ball game on TV, an old girlfriend may begin opening old wounds while you’re sat in the office, or your Mom could come on and tell you to come home and tidy your room if you’re out in the park with Facebook on your phone. For this reason you should probably disable Facebook chat.
10. Have we met?
Last but not least, is one of the most unnerving things on Facebook – friend requests from people you have no clue who they are. Perhaps it’s someone you met while on holiday, perhaps it’s a spammer, perhaps it’s someone you know well but who has changed their name and profile picture. Who knows?
The best way to avoid putting others in the awkward position of not knowing whether to accept the request or not is to be clear about who you are. Use your real name and add a message reminding the person who you are if you think they won’t be certain.
What’s your biggest Facebook pet hate? Are you guilty of any of the no-no’s we’ve mentioned here? We’d love to know…