There is always a lot of hoopla on how to act on Facebook. Most people understand the danger of incriminating photos, but there is a whole world of etiquette that most people are completely unaware of.
I'd like to hypothesize that the people who came of age during the advent of Facebook share a set of unspoken social rules. For those who are unaware, please adhere to the following dos and don'ts in order to save face on Facebook.
1. Don't be an overeager friender. There is nothing worse than waking up to a friend request from someone you talked to for a few minutes at the bar the night before. Sure, when you make new friends, feel free to look for them on Facebook, but allow at least two to three days in between meeting someone and friending them online.
2. Do reach out to friends that you have not seen or heard from for a while. The best part of Facebook is that it is an easy way to keep in touch with friends. It is always nice to get a message or a wall post from an old friend and reconnect.
3. Don't make it obvious that you have memorized your crush's profile. It is only natural to check out and monitor your crush on Facebook, but don't admit that you have been stalking him/her. If you can bring up his favorite movie during a dinner conversation, props to you, but if you mention her Halloween costume from four years ago, that's just weird.
4. Don't RSVP "maybe coming" or "not attending" to a big public event. If someone sends out an invitation for a birthday party and needs a headcount, by all means let them know whether or not you will be there. But, there is no need to say, "not attending" to an "Oh no! I lost my cell phone and need your digits" event that someone who you have not spoken to since freshmen orientation sends out to all his friends.
5. Don't confuse Facebook status with Twitter or Gchat status. Facebook status is for posting interesting articles, funny photos, or life changing events. No one needs to know that you just ate a hamburger and fries or that you just ran for 15 minutes. It is more acceptable to post small, unimportant updates to Twitter, where people know to expect them, or Gchat, where it is confined to your email contacts.
6. Do understand the art of the tag. Everyone loves to be tagged in photos, but only attractive photos. Tagging someone making a funny or contorted face is just mean. Tagging yourself is acceptable, but should be kept to a minimum. Try to only tag yourself if there is someone else in the photo. If you have a photo on your camera of just yourself looking amazing in a bikini, send it your mom, but don't make a blatant self-call on Facebook.
7. Do use the "like" option creatively. I like to click "like" when my newsfeed shows that two people I know "are now friends" on Facebook.
8. Don't be an uncomfortable poker. The poke button is so old that it is new again and can be used ironically to say "hi" to good friends. Poke wars (poking back and forth) are also bizarrely entertaining. But, don't use a cyber poke as a flirting mechanism unless it is meant ironically.
9. Don't change your relationship status. It is okay to be in a relationship on Facebook if you are married or engaged, but if not, it is just too much information. Also, in event of a break-up, you have to change your status back. You probably won't want the whole world to find out that your relationship failed.
10. Do post photos of events, but don't do this immediately after the event. We live in a world of instant gratification, but it might seem like you have no life (or spend too much of your life on the computer) if you are too quick to post photos from a night out or a weekend getaway.
11. Don't obsess over your personal profile. Back in the day when Facebook had a place to list your college classes, the emphasis was on your personal profile. These days, the emphasis is on photos and status updates. Do make sure that your profile is up to date (like current city and job), but don't update your favorite movies every time you see a new blockbuster.
12. Do keep your personal and work life completely separate on Facebook. Never friend your boss or write messages on your client's Facebook wall.
Follow Julia Plevin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/juliaplevin