Facebook etiquette

March 26, 2009 1:59:21 PM PDT
They're the new cocktail hour and coffee klatch venues gone cyber.

Social networking sites like MySpace, Linked-in and now the biggest of them all, Facebook.

"You can keep in contact with everyone at all times," Mavis Martin said.

"Most people do it because everybody else does it and if you don't do it, you feel like left behind," Anna Geisler said.

Facebook alone boasts 175 million active users. The average user has 120 friends and the site's fastest growing demographic is those 30 years old or older.

"The whole world seems to be on this now. Everybody's abuzz about it," Jeremy Kaplan said.

Kaplan is the executive editor of PCMag.com and has watched -- perhaps closer than most -- as Facebook and other sites have become the new way of reaching out and touching, sharing photos and personal information with equally benevolent cyber-friends worldwide.

But is there such a thing as sharing too much information? As "Facebooking" becomes more prevalent, is there some social networking etiquette that we should all be following?

"What everyone should do right now is to go out, if you have one of these pages, and do a little audit of yourself. You have to look at everything that's up there and think to yourself, is this appropriate?" explained Kaplan.

If it's not something you want everyone to see, Kaplan advises heading straight to the site's privacy settings where you can fine tune your social networking life, including who sees your friends, which friend's see what information, and who gets a look at your photos.

"I (do) not allow people to view my photos who are not my friends," Jannis Thiel said.

"I usually let only my friends see everything that I have on there," Anthony Heyward said.

When it comes to "friending" someone on a site, the experts insist it's not rude just to ignore people you don't know, but they admit that the stakes are a bit higher if the request comes from your boss.

"Just get back to that person and say you know, I really just goof around on Facebook. Let's keep this relationship important. Why don't you link up with me on Linked-in. It's all in how you phrase it," Kaplan said.

Linked-in is generally considered more professional than either Facebook or MySpace, so some suggest a separate, more tame profile there is the way to go.

Though savy social networkers agree with Shakespeare, "discretion is the better part of valor".

"If you're going to put drunk pictures on Facebook, or put pictures you don't want people to see on Facebook, then you deserve what you're going to get. Honestly, because you're just not using your head," Martin said.

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