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To Post or Not to Post Photos on Facebook

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Posting photos on Facebook has replaced baseball as America's favorite pastime for some digital-enthusiasts and everyday people. When Instagram came on the scene, celebrities embraced the photo-sharing site and Facebook grabbed it for $1 billion.

Our love affair with Facebook started to wane with multiple and confusing changes to their privacy settings. Even a social media strategist like myself sometimes felt the pain with each and every new change, making sure that I could explain them properly to others.

Then the big netiquette no-no happened. Mark Zuckerberg's sister Randi posted what she thought was a "private" photo on Facebook. When she noticed a stranger's "public" tweet with her associated photo, she responded unkindly. One can easily wonder how this could happen to her and why she didn't know the answer to the photo-posting dilemma. However, her public twitter engagement with @cschweitz clearly broke the Rules of Netiquette.

Sure, when we're upset or busy, we often fall victim to an improper post before thinking it through. Most people aren't aware that the Library of Congress now indexes their tweets, permanently.

According to the New York Post, and many other publications, Randi Zuckerberg complained when one of her Twitter followers publicly posted a photo of the family, including her brother Mark reacting to the new Poke app.

When Garrett Sloane from the New York Post called me to discuss the story that was going viral, I explained that we create a permanent digital footprint every time we post, update, and tag photos or videos on our social networks. We're in the digital moment and it feels fine at the time, but you often can't take it back.

In the New York Post article, Sloane shared the Twitter conversation:

"Not sure where you got this photo,"Randi tweeted in response to @cschweitz. "I posted it only to friends on FB. You reposting it on Twitter is way uncool."

I've always had a digital rule of thumb. When I snap a photo of someone else or a group at a party, I stop and show them the photo and ask if I can have their permission to post it to Facebook. If you're automating your Facebook feed to Twitter, it can been suddenly shared for the entire world-wide-web to see, even if your Facebook privacy settings are set to "friends only."

Another netiquette rule is to take your digital spats offline and communicate in private, not in the public twitter stream, or on someone's Facebook wall. If you have something to say that isn't flattering or is attacking another, send them a private message on Twitter, if they're following you. If you need to respond, do so privately and kindly request that they follow you as well, if they're not already.

"I'm just your subscriber and this was top of my newsfeed. Genuinely sorry but it came up in my feed and seemed public," Schweitzer responded to Randi. "Digital etiquette: always ask permission before posting a friend's photo publicly. It's not about privacy settings, it's about human decency," Randi admonised in a tweet after the photo was removed.

As I told the New York Post, "Social Media is about : sharing experiences. If you post something on the Internet, it will be shared by strangers.

Unfortunately, we're learning the lessons the hard way, especially when Facebook keeps changing the rules.

Julie Spira is a social media strategist and netiquette expert who writes about digital etiquette and the intersection of love and technology. She's the author of The Rules of Netiquette: How to Mind Your Manners on the Web. Follow her on Twitter @JulieSpira and at Facebook.com/RulesofNetiquette.