Monthly Archives: November 2011

5 Rules of Facebook Etiquette

 By Elizabeth Brownfield

Facebook is a blessing for busy women. You can easily and quickly stay connected with friends and family, find old friends, foster new relationships and network professionally. There’s only one problem: Facebook etiquette isn’t always as clear-cut as are good manners in the real world. In fact, navigating social situations in a virtual world can be downright tricky.

All it takes to avoid a Facebook faux pas, however, is knowing a few do’s and don’ts. Check out this guide to Facebook etiquette:

1. DO write a personal message when making a friend request.
If you haven’t talked to the person in years, it’s likely he or she may not remember you, says Linda Fogg Phillips, a social media expert and author of Facebook for Parents. Just go with a short message that puts you in context, like, “Haven’t seen you since college! Let’s reconnect.”

Want to friend someone you’ve never met? Send a separate message before making a friend request. Otherwise, you can seem intrusive, not to mention presumptuous, and they may ignore you. In the message, explain yourself — that a mutual pal suggested you connect, for example — then wait for a response before sending the friend request.

2. DON’T be a Debbie Downer.
It’s OK to vent and commiserate on Facebook, but if you make it a regular habit, your pals will get tired of your grumbles. Instead, stay positive and hold back when angry. That way, you’ll never regret an online rant. “You can delete a post, but you can’t erase the words from [the minds of] the people who’ve already read it,” says Phillips.

3. DO make and manage friend lists.
“The list function is one of Facebook’s best tools,” says Phillips. It allows you to choose who sees certain posts, so you can set it so only your college pals see those bachelorette party photos. Phillips suggests creating an “A List,” of your closest friends and family. Then, make a larger family or friends list, a list of work contacts and so on. (Friends can be part of more than one list.)

4. DON’T make Facebook a popularity contest.
Do you really need — or want — 800 friends? “Studies have shown that people can only manage about 150 relationships in their lives — face-to-face or online,” says Phillips. When you get a request from someone you don’t want to befriend, neither confirm nor decline it. (If you decline, she could send another later.) Don’t worry about offending her: “Most people send requests, then forget about them; they may not even notice you aren’t responding,” says Phillips.

5. DO be careful of what you post.
It seems obvious, but even something as benign as “The weekend cannot come soon enough!” may appear sour to your boss or co-worker. Plus, your next job opportunity could come from a Facebook contact, so always cast yourself in a positive light, says Phillips. Making and managing friend lists helps avoid problems, but also apply a common-sense filter to all posts.

When people run into Facebook etiquette problems, it’s usually because they’ve taken liberties they might not have taken in the non-virtual world. But stop for a second and use your common sense, and you’ll master the manners of Facebook in less time than it takes to poke your old college roomie.

Elizabeth Brownfield has been on the editorial staffs of Metropolitan Home, Domino, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and Every Day with Rachael Ray. She is also a writer for TastingTable.com.

Spams & Scams: A Pair of Facebook Frauds to Avoid

You cannot find out how many people view your profile
by Jessica Citizen | Last updated 12:00AM EST on January 28, 2011

Spams & Scams: A pair of Facebook frauds to avoid
It’s been designed to appeal to our most basic, narcissistic instincts — a Facebook application that lets you know how many people have looked at your profile. Another promises to remind you of what your first status update was.

The number of users posting updates from these applications is only rivaled by the number of their well-meaning friends posting alerts that the whole thing’s a scam, designed to steal your personal information.

While equally annoying, these friends are actually onto something. Technically, these apps aren’t stealing anything that you’re not already publishing, but neither application tells you exactly what it’s going to do with the information — and it’ll access just about everything you’ve ever even thought about putting in your profile.

How does it work?
Using an assortment of different names, the general approach used by these applications is the same. The developers expect people to notice posts by their friends about their first Facebook status, the number of people who’d checked out their profile, or other seemingly innocuous things.

Intrigued, the victim decides to find out what her first post was, so she clicks the link below the post. The standard warning pops up, asking her to give the application permission to access her personal details. Obviously, to find her first status, the program will have to dig down a little bit, right? So she accepts the warning and eagerly anticipates the trip down Memory Lane.

But wait — Memory Lane was never supposed to be paved with online surveys, was it? By the time the warning bells have started ringing for our victim, the app has already posted on her wall — three times — including a fake first status she never wrote and a recommendation for other people to try the app. Then the cycle starts again, as one of the victim’s friends sees the post and wonders what his first status was.

Why does it do that?
There are a few reasons these sorts of scams get created. Firstly, harvesting your personal information is a theoretical gold mine of data that can then be sold to the highest bidder to pad out spam email lists or be used in targeted advertising.

Secondly, there is a slightly more real gold mine hidden behind the surveys. The more surveys that are filled out, the more money the creator will receive.

There’s another reason too, which is more insidious but is not necessarily present in every scam of this sort. After you’ve added the app and filled out the survey, you may be asked to download a piece of software. It might be disguised as a tracking device, something that will help monitor the number of people looking at your profile page. Once downloaded and installed, this piece of software — known as malware — may make you more susceptible to future spam attacks and annoying pop-ups in your browser, or it may even lock you out of your own software. Particularly malicious variants may install further software on your computer that will steal your personal information, including passwords, credit card information, or internet banking details.

What can you do?
What if you’ve already clicked? It’s important to clean up any traces of the app on your profile. Delete the posts it made on your wall, and remove the application from your profile settings. You will not need to change your password (although you can, if it will make you feel safer).

If you’ve noticed any weird things happening on your computer after falling for this scam, it’s a good idea to run an anti-malware program. Microsoft Security Essentials is a great start — it’s free for Windows users and runs in the background of your operating system. The program will find and squish almost any nastiness lurking on your computer and help protect you in the future. Even if you don’t think you’re infected, it’s still be a good idea to install this one!

(For the record, if you’re using a Mac, you’ve got a little less to worry about. Your operating system is pretty secure, so you shouldn’t be affected by malware and other unpleasantness. However, keeping a current anti-malware program on your system is still something we recommend.)

Be alert
Don’t trust apps from unknown creators who want to connect with your profile and access your personal information, regardless of what the app might claim to do for you. There are currently no apps on Facebook that will measure profile views or keep track of who has visited your profile page — and there is no way of knowing who is accessing the personal information you have published. It might also be a good idea to think about which details you’re making public, and maybe have a quick look over this guide to getting started on Facebook — even if you’ve been there a while, there’s still some useful tips and ideas!