Internet Social Networking Etiquette

Internet social networking is the hot way to make friends, find old friends and help your business grow, but there are some etiquette rules that you should follow. You have to be careful with what you put out there, because you cannot take it back. Once something's in cyberspace, it's there forever, and someone will find it.

The rule of thumb for online communications is the same as for dealing with people in real life: treat others as you would like to be treated. Remember that every blog entry, Twitter or image post contributes to your online personality. People who don't know you personally will form an opinion of you based on what you do. You want that impression to be a postive one.

Don't Give in to Anger
Be careful not to let negative posts get to you so much that you end up writing a nasty post back. You cannot take it back once you cool down and figure out that your post really wasn't needed. Realize that you have a reputation to uphold. It can be taken away. All the work you've done to deserve a positive reputation can go down the tubes in a second. It takes much more work to repair a bad reputation than to maintain a good one.

Check Those Friends
When you're adding people to your friend list, make sure you don't just hit "add as a friend" and be done with it. When adding a friend, there is a place where you can add a line or two for a note. Be personal.

Don't just pick anyone to be your friend. Of course you're going to add people you already know, but look closely at others' profiles. Do they have anything in common with you? Do they have raunchy pictures plastered all over their site or profile? Don't associate with those who don't care enough about themselves to be considerate. Remember, other viewers will see your friend list, and they may judge you by the company you keep.

Keep Photos Clean
Do not use tasteless pictures in your profile or Web site. If you wouldn't show these pictures to your mom or grandmother, then they shouldn't be posted for the world to see. Those pictures of you in a sexy dress or passed out at a party may be hilarious to your friends, but they won't be appreciated by future employers or college admissions offices.

Reposting pictures of others should be avoided unless you have permission. This is especially true for pictures of younger family members, as sharing any kind of personal information online can be dangerous.

Watch Where You Link
Part of the point of social networking is to share your interests with others, but you need to exercise caution in choosing links to post. Links to adult Web sites, illegal downloads or harmful viruses make you look immature, not cool. Links to excessively violent content or hate groups won't win you many friends. You might find it funny to link to something controversial, but don't expect everyone to share your opinion.

Respect Boundaries
Harassment and bullying exist online just as they do in the real world. Don't use social networking sites to settle real-world scores. That feeling of anonymity can be empowering, but it's easier than you think for people to find out who you are.

Repeatedly sending messages to someone is a form of harassment that must be avoided. At the very least, you'll ensure that the person never wants to speak to you again. At worst, you could find yourself banned from certain social networking sites. Remember, if the behavior wouldn't be tolerated in the real world, it won't be tolerated online.

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