Avoiding Facebook’s Pratfalls

Why haven’t people learned?Avoiding Facebook Pratfalls


Facebook’s been a thing since 2004, and given this lengthy history – particularly by social networking standards – I’d imagine regular Facebook users would long ago have figured out how to avoid the most common and embarrassing blunders. You know, writing or showing something that gets you in hot water with a significant other, or employer, or friends.


It seems that celebrities – athletes, musicians, actors – make their greatest faux pas on Twitter and Instagram. But for the rank-and-file, those of us who communicate primarily with a select peer group, our blunders are most likely to occur on Facebook.  It is, after all, the planet’s most-often-used social networking site.


This being the case, and since I’d like to see some of us avoid unnecessary unpleasantness, following are a few tips for navigating away from Facebook troubles.


  • Don’t post a photo showing you somewhere you shouldn’t be, or with someone you shouldn’t be with. Oh, you hadn’t realized so much was visible in that image? That’s why you check every picture prior to posting it.


  • Don’t post an image of yourself doing anything you wouldn’t want your most conservative, restrained relative or colleague to see you do. Sure your activities are up to you … but you don’t need to share them with your entire online world.


  • Have a job? Want to keep it? Don’t write anything that’s in opposition to the core focus, mission, or beliefs of your employer or clients. If you’re unsure, err on the side of caution. And if you somehow still believe you can’t be fired for what you write on your personal site, you can. It happens regularly.


  • Back in the day, it was a rule that one never discussed politics or religion in polite company. That was a wise rule, and I expect it evolved as a result of many people’s bad experiences. It should still be a rule today, on social media. At the very least, I’d advise you to make it your rule.


  • Being witty, maybe even with a dose of sarcasm thrown in? Unless you write for Saturday Night Live, reconsider. It’s remarkable how many people have caused themselves problems simply by attempts at online laughter. It’s challenging for professionals to convey meaning effectively through the veil of humor – for anyone else, it can be a disaster of miscommunication.


Oh, and one more thing. Please don’t tell me that you’ll post whatever you want online, and that you don’t care what anyone else says or thinks. Because that’s not true. If you didn’t care at all what at least some people thought,  you wouldn’t be on Facebook or any other social media platform in the first place.