Social-Media Etiquette:
The Do’s and Don’ts

Day-to-day life has rules of etiquette. The challenges of online communication (see pages 262–265) mean that social media has an etiquette all its own, Below are 10 important rules to follow as you interact with others on all types of social media.

1. Do

read every message before clicking “Send.”

2. Don’t

click “Send” when you’re tired or emotional. Especially avoid sending messages when you’re angry. Once posted, a message is difficult or impossible to take back.

3. Do

introduce yourself whenever you “friend” someone, “follow” someone, or join a conversation.

4. Don’t

post embarrassing or incriminating photos or video to social-media sites at any time. Again, once posted, they may be out of your control.

5. Do

comment on and promote other people’s work.

6. Don’t

bully or gang up on people.

7. Do

strive for honesty and transparency in your interactions.

8. Don’t

feel obligated to “follow” or “friend” someone. Likewise, don’t make others feel obligated to “follow” or “friend” you.

9. Do

consider your audience. Know the difference between a public and a private message.

10. Don’t

post either your own or someone else’s private information online (telephone number, home address, etc.).

Your Turn Brainstorm with classmates ways to recognize hazardous or difficult situations when communicating in social media. Discuss best practices for handling those situations.


Staying Safe Online

The World Wide Web is, any many ways, like the Wild, Wild West. It’s full of exciting opportunities and emerging technologies like the various types of social media in this chapter. But it also has its share of hazards, including cyber bandits. To protect yourself, your family, and your computing device, you’ll need to follow a few common-sense precautions.

Protect your identity.

Don’t reveal personal details to strangers online. Before making any information public, consider what it reveals about you, your home, and your family. That warning is especially true of photos and Web cam images.

Use trusted sites and services.

Just as wandering down a dark alley in a city is unsafe, so is navigating an unusual Web site, chatting in an unfamiliar service, or opening a suspicious email. Stick to sites and services with a national or worldwide reputation to be safe.

Look before you click.

Spammers disguise dangerous links with innocent names. (Your status bar may give you a clue.) Phishers send emails claiming to be from somewhere official, but with an infected attachment or a link to a fake Web site. If you aren’t sure, don’t click. If an email says you need to check your account, go directly to the actual Web site in your browser; avoid using links in emails.

Close the door.

When finished using a personal account from a public computer—at school, at the library, or even at someone else’s house—remember to log out, so the next person cannot access your account.

Don’t download anything questionable.

The surest way to get a computer virus is to download something you shouldn’t. Unscrupulous people know how tempting a “free” album, movie, game, or book is, and they often offer infected files this way. Even legitimate programs are often packaged with lots of other software that can bog down your computer. Be sure you know exactly what you are installing before giving it access to your computer.

Make sure your computer has antivirus and antispam software.

Many security companies offer free versions of programs that can help keep your computer safe from intrusion. Be sure to keep the program’s virus definitions up to date, though. It is also a good idea to use an online scanner every six to twelve months to see if your antivirus program has missed anything.

Your Turn Check online for news reports of identity theft. Share in class what you discover, and discuss ways the victim could have avoided being taken advantage of.