One of the best, and most important, things about social media is that there are no hard and fast rules. Social media is what you make of it, and there’s no right or wrong way to use it.
However, some social networks are better suited for certain activities than others. Facebook has 1.39 billion monthly active users, and 890 million of them use the platform every day. At the close of 2014, 745 million daily active users were on mobile devices.
It’s difficult to convey in words just how massively popular and important Facebook is around the world. Unfortunately, though your parents, grandparents and maybe even great grandparents are on Facebook, the social network isn’t always simple to use or intuitive.
Let’s face it, Facebook asks a lot from us, and it’s about time we ask for more from our fellow users. On that note, here are our Facebook rules of engagement.
(Editor’s note: This story is the third installment of a four-part series. Read the first entry for Instagram here and the second entry for Twitter here. A similar story on LinkedIn is coming soon.)
Don’t Overshare or ‘Like’ Everything, Please
If you’re using Facebook as your primary online photo-storage locker, you’re almost certainly oversharing. If you post on Facebook multiple times each day, about anything and everything that comes your way, you’re also very likely oversharing. And that’s bad.
[Related: Why IT Should Be Skeptical of ‘Facebook at Work’]
You should try to be considerate of people’s time, and understand that you don’t have to Like or share everything you read or see on Facebook. Try to be at least a little mysterious, and before you hit Like or share, take an extra second to reconsider the value of that post.
Nobody signs up for Facebook and accepts Friend request to live vicariously through their connections. Share what strikes your fancy on Facebook, and Like whatever matters to you, just try to be selective and don’t beat people over the head with it.
Don’t Tag (or Poke) Me, Bro
This one should be self-explanatory, but unfortunately, for many folks it isn’t. Nine times out of 10, your Friends simply won’t want to be tagged in photos you post on Facebook, especially if those images are even slightly risqué. If you have any reservations at all about posting an image, or suspect Friends in the photo might have some, don’t do it.
Tagging photos lets your Friends know you either posted a photo of them or more likely just think there’s something they absolutely must see. I get it, and there’s some value there. However, by tagging Friends you actually associate their Facebook profiles with your content, and that means it could show up in Friends’ timelines and who knows where else.
I’ll be honest, I have no clue what Facebook’s poke feature is all about. A virtual tap on the shoulder followed by … absolutely nothing? So, I’m begging you, please do not tag or poke people. It comes off as silly and rude, even if that was not your intention.
Don’t Invite Me to Your Event or Ask Me to Like Your Page
Call me antisocial, but chances are I won’t be going to your upcoming event or Liking your personal page anytime soon. Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but I think Facebook event invites are impersonal, and they lack sincerity.
If you’re throwing a party or celebrating something, please send your friends a text message or write a quick email. You get extra points if you get really crazy and decide to send an actual invitation in the mail. (Yes, people really used to do that.)
[Related: 7 Things You Should Never Do on Twitter]
I appreciate it when I’m introduced on Facebook to a new nonprofit organization or business that’s doing amazing things, and if I was asked to Like their pages, I probably would. However, almost all of the event invites I receive on Facebook are basically spam. I don’t want to hear about the club that’s being promoted by someone I went to high school with, and I probably won’t be able to make the poetry reading you’re doing at a cafe in Albuquerque on a Wednesday night. Just leave me, and your other random Friends, out of it.
Set Realistic Expectations on Facebook
Most people take Facebook way too seriously. It’s out of hand, and I wish it would stop, but the fact (and reason why the site’s so popular) is people are needy and Facebook has a special way of making everyone feel important. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless you get angry or sad when something you share on Facebook doesn’t receive as many Likes or comments as you expected.
Where did all these high expectations on Facebook come from anyway? Stop looking for love in all the wrong places, or in this case, the wrong profiles. Instead, log out of Facebook, then call someone who cares about you as much as you care about them.
Also, Facebook generally isn’t a great place to cry out for help, seek verification or redemption.
Keep Facebook Group Chats Relevant (and to a Minimum)
Group discussions on Facebook can be fun, productive and enlightening. However, your Friends do not want to be notified every time one of the 85 people you invite to a group chat posts a comment. Those Friends probably know only five other people on the thread, anyway.
Don’t mix your circles of family, friends and colleagues into group conversations. Keep your group chats relevant, purposeful and, most important, to a minimum.
Avoid Controversy on Facebook
Debating politics on Facebook is already some sort of pastime, which quite honestly pains me. We owe ourselves, and our Friends, a better sense of decorum on Facebook.
[Related: 6 Ways You’re Annoying People on Instagram]
Be a good Facebook citizen and avoid posting opinions on politics, if you can help it. Also avoid religion while you’re at it. This is an unfortunate “rule,” because Facebook is all about the free flow of ideas. However, I rarely read intelligent or meaningful conversations on Facebook about anything that’s even semi-controversial. It’s only going to get worse as the presidential election cycle heats up later this year and throughout 2016.
Don’t Be an @$$#*!~
The most important rule on Facebook — and any other social network, really — is simple: don’t be an @$$#*!~.
You don’t always have to be nice, but you can get your point across on Facebook without being mean, calling people disparaging names or posting hurtful things.