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How to Be Stupid on Facebook

June 16, 2009

Here’s a quick rundown of surefire things that will get you in trouble on Facebook, or any social networking site.

How to Be Stupid Online

  • Insult people—extra points for your boss!
  • Post really embarrassing photos of yourself or others.
  • List your full birth date, phone number, and address in your profile.
  • Post your exact daily routine/whereabouts.
  • Upload pics of your sweet new flatscreen.
  • Share your home’s cool floor plan.
  • Then tell everyone you’re on vacation!

That last one, by the way, really happened to someone. And yes, when they returned home they had a broken window and no HDTV.

Now, on the flip side…how to be really smart on Facebook (or any social networking site):

How to Be Really Smart Online

  • Use good judgment about what you post. Reveal only as much or as little as you’re comfortable with.
  • Choose who can see what you post. Check the default settings to control exactly who can view your profile and updates. (Don’t assume the defaults are what you want.)
  • Block, don’t just ignore, unwanted applications. They can still access your personal info unless you “block” them.
  • Get some work done! “Friend” your coworkers; create an online group to communicate with one another. You can share resources like links to industry news articles and other work-related websites, and have freeflowing discussions about current events online!
  • Promote your organization or cause. If your employer, church, or favorite cause isn’t already on Facebook, get them on there ASAP! It’s an essential way to build brand awareness, attract new customers, even garner donations!
  • Build relationships with coworkers and friends. Create “events” — brown bag lunches, parties, meetings, discussions, charity fundraisers, etc. Invite people; let them RSVP online; post and tag photos of attendees afterwards!
  • Don’t clog up other people’s News Feeds and waste their time. If you must take quizzes and participate in Zombie or Mafia wars or other similar applications, be sure to opt out of sharing your quiz results or score. No one else cares.
  • Customize your News Feed. By the same token, if your News Feed is full of so-and-so’s Top 5 Ice Cream Flavors and other useless info, use the customize options to “hide” news about that application (or the person, if they’re a particularly egregious offender.) Over time, your News Feed will get better. Another good tip: utilize “Friend Lists” so your News Feed is sortable in a way that’s useful to you. For example, sort your friends into lists like “Colleagues,” “Family,” “Church,” etc. This takes some time up front but once you’ve done it, your Facebook experience will be much richer because you can then use those groups to set your privacy rules (e.g., only “Family” can see this, only “Colleagues” can see that) and you can even seamlessly add new friends to your already-existing lists as they come along.

I’ll do a more detailed post on customizing your News Feed and Facebook Friend Management in the future…

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