How Not to be an Asshole on Facebook

I absolutely love Facebook. Facebook has made it easier for me to keep in contact with my friends who are no longer living in the same city as me. Facebook has led to a reunion of sorts between me and my long lost sister of 16 years. Facebook helps me remember birthdays! Facebook is a wonderful tool and I will never be one of those silly people who goes on full Facebook hiatuses. That all said, I do try to abide by code of ethics when using Facebook. Let me share with you my personal code of Facebook ethics.

How Not to be an Asshole on Facebook


photo credit

  1. Don’t air dirty laundry. I’ve seen both guys and gals outing their current partners as lying cheats. I’ve seen feuding friends publicize their brawls on newsfeeds. Most of these feuds end up being resolved offline, and later I’ve found embarrassed participants remove evidence of drama. The thing is, it’s already a bit late. Airing out drama online will sear impressions of both you and the people you’ve outed to your audience and the impressions will not be good. I find it good practice not to be logged into Facebook when you’re blindingly angry.
  2. Respect people’s requests for photo removals. Listen, unless you’ve taken flawless photos every time and have the thickest skin, you know what it’s like to have an unflattering photo of you on the internet that you did not upload. Have empathy. If someone is insecure about a photo of him or her that you’ve uploaded, respect his or her wishes and remove the photo. Don’t just untag it.
  3. If you know a photo of a friend is a bad photo, don’t bother uploading it. Jumping off the previous rule, if you already know that the photo of your friend, Sensitive Susan drooling in her sleep on the road trip to Padre is a bad photo, don’t upload it! If you happen to be sitting next to her sporting the best hair day ever, don’t be a tool, use the crop tool.
  4. Don’t be that person who brings everyone down with incessant depressing “woe is me” statuses. Do you know the 5 to 1 rule (PDF file of academic research article)? The 5 to 1 rule is a popular rule in pop psychology right now, asserting that negative interactions have a bigger impact on us psychologically compared to good interactions. Studies show that 5 good interactions is psychologically equivalent to 1 bad interaction. Use this rule when publishing Facebook statuses. Your Facebook audience is not your group therapy session.
  5. Don’t upload photos with illegal happenings in your foreground or background. Here’s looking at you, recreational drug users.
  6. Unless you’re in the business, don’t upload photos of yourself in your underwear.
  7. Don’t forget that people can see your Facebook life. If I were to summarize all these rules into one neat and tidy Golden Rule, it is this: People can see you.

Question: What can you add to this list?

  • Treavioli

    Granted my usual response to #7 is ‘And?’ but that’s because I’m an exhibitionist. I’m very much into the shock value and/or “I’m gonna show you the real ‘behind the makeup’ view of my life.” You’ll probably see a few “I’m updating from the toilet” updates if we’re friends on facebook. It’s contradicting with my “private person” persona, but I think I’d only say those things with my friends, who *should* know me as someone who says random and honest sh*t.

    As for #4, I used to do this when I was younger, when I wanted someone to give me attention. Eventually I realized I didn’t want to be seen as someone always depressed (even though I was), so I stopped updating with sad stuff. However, I think some people just don’t have that go-to person who they can talk about stuff with or a need a variety of different opinions, whether facebook is the place for that… that’s a possibility; it really depends on what kind of fb friends you have.

    Good post.

  • Linda

    Hi Treavioli,

    Re: No. 7, My point is as long as you remember that Facebook is mostly a public forum, things will be gravy. If you’re an exhibitionist (as am I partially), and are comfortable with any foreseeable repercussions of disclosing whatever you’re disclosing, then have at it. :) I chuckle when my friends admit to updating while on the pot.

    Re: No. 4 – Very good point. I forget that the internet is also a refuge for many without IRL support groups.

    :) Thanks for the thoughtful comment.
    – Linda

  • Hey Linda
    Good post. I would add – I think its okay to post pictures of your newborn to share but wait until it is cleaned off and wrapped (and has bonded with you) before you post the picture. I have seen too many freshly born screaming nasty pictures. what is more important baby bonding with mom right away or sharing that nasty photo with the internet?

    I have also seen honeymoon pictures where the couple is in a robe in bed the next morning. We all know what you did, but do you have to show us the proof?

    • Linda

      Caryn,
      I laughed reading your comment. Some people find the bloody baby photos beautiful. I think those people are typically the parents. The rest of us are a little squeamish of the bloody baby.
      – Linda

  • Von

    LOL! I can TOTALLY relate to the drooling pic! Thank God we didn’t have facebook back then but I HATE when people do that! To add to this list, I’d definitely say that children are overexposed on Facebook. I just feel bad for little Johnny 18 years from now when his folks decided to post all his naked baby/child pics for hundreds of people to see.

  • Linda

    Hi Von!
    So when you say “overexposed” you also mean it literally! Har har har ;)
    – Linda

  • I love your list, Linda! I would add vague statuses to the list. People who say stuff just to get attention and comments. It’s not so much #4, as it is a plea for #4. Am I making any sense? Probably not.

  • Linda

    Stephany,
    Oh how right you are! I agree and have been guilty of the vague passive aggressive note that I scramble to delete after I come to my senses every once in a while.

    – Linda

  • Oh that’s a great FB code of ethics list! I followed all of those codes and eventually still deleted FB due to a psycho-stalker ex. I especially agree about not airing out the dirty laundry. I personally do not have friends that so that, but I have heard about it unfortunately.

    I would add don’t use excessive profanity. It’s not that I am against naughty words, I just really don’t like reading them on FB! Besides, it makes the poster look too ignorant to come up with a better way to describe whatever they are talking about. (I’m talking about people who constanly you the eff word instead of something like ‘awesome’ or ‘fantastic’)

    • Linda

      Brittany,
      Yikes re: psycho stalker ex. Hope you rid of him by deleting facebook.

      Yeah, I agree with the excessive cursing (ha! despite my blog post title) but you are right. It either jars you as you read or desensitizes you.
      – Linda

  • BDF

    You owe me 50 positive or good interactions after reading your 10 negative interactions. Please be guided accordingly.

  • BDF,
    Hahahahah. Touche.
    But I can say the same to you so does that mean, we’re even?
    – Linda

  • I agree with all of those. Like Treavioli said, I’m guilty of doing some of those things when I was younger. I roll my eyes when I see people my age continually using their facebook as a sounding board for all aspects of their life.

    And definitely agree with Caryn about the baby pictures. And anything pregnancy wise. I don’t want to see 36 weeks of photos of a girl standing in her bra and undies to show facebook world her growing belly. And I don’t need status updates about how dilated she is – nope, don’t care.

    I would also add all the check-ins that people do. It’s nice to see when someone checks-in at a special place, but not every single place. And especially those stupid check-ins at their own house and then add they are in bed with their spouse…tmi.

    Oh, and status updates like “oh, I love my husband so much…he is the greatest” blah blah blah. Tell him that, not facebook.

    I have lots of facebook pet peeves. :)

  • Good list. I generally don’t like these apps that make some weird image and your face appears on it and you’re tagged. I always untag myself. I generally don’t like to be tagged. Another thing that is sometimes over the top are countless baby photos. It’s ok, if you share few pics once, but not every day, week, month continuously. I know you’re a proud parent, but how can you assume that everybody wants to see your baby every day, every week, every month?

  • Kristy,
    Haha! You had a lot to say. I have a couple of babies I facebook stalk. Well, off the top of my head 3 babies I facebook. You would too! These babies are especially cute. I haven’t seen any dilation updates on facebook but I have seen a few on twitter.

    Nino,
    Seems like not a lot of people enjoy the constant baby pics! Read above my reply to Kristy. I guess I’m blessed with cute cute cute babies in my newsfeed.
    I hear you about those apps. I untag myself from them too.

  • Yes to #3!!!!

  • Brenda

    My name is Brenda and I pledge not to be an asshole on Facebook!

  • yeah, lol. This is definitely something I might have to repost on Facebook because I see people making jackasses of themselves every day. I think they don’t realize that once you post something on the internet its practically there and out forever. Even when you delete it, those who have seen it could have print screened or a copy of it is always going to be seen on spam sites that send bots to look for popular content and they copy that content, place it on their site in hopes of attracting viewers. Not to mention, I think when you act out you show everyone your seams. When people know your weakness and can point out the bad “traits” about you, it could en up being detrimental to ones self esteem.

    • Linda

      Hahah, Brenda & Ashley

      Natasha,
      I didn’t think about people exploiting your weaknesses but I totally get that. I’ve had bad experience with sharing too much on my blogs so I can totally see the same thing is relevant on FB :) Thanks for coming by and for the great comment.
      – Linda

  • What a small world! lol we were talking about he knows everyone and their mama’s too

    This is a good post on fb. I’m more aware to keep my photos and my life a bit more private now that I’ve reactivated my account.

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  • Amazing write-up! This could aid plenty of people find out more about this particular issue. Are you keen to integrate video clips coupled with these? It would absolutely help out. Your conclusion was spot on and thanks to you; I probably won’t have to describe everything to my pals. I can simply direct them here!