The Guide to Social Media Etiquette

As quickly as the Internet evolves, so does the way we interact online. Here are the new rules for navigating social media with grace.

Photo by Microsoft



Based on a survey of Real Simple readers, Facebook is the gold standard of social media. And while the settings and designs might change more often than your hairstyle, the advice for sharing on the site stays the same.


Friending and unfriending: When you first join Facebook, the main activity is to connect with your friends, family, and colleagues both current and long-lost. But if and when you discover that you don’t really care what your seventh-grade biology lab partner did over the weekend, remember that it’s okay to prune your friend list. “You don’t need to make an announcement about it,” says Jodi R. R. Smith, the author of The Etiquette Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Manners ($28, “Your lives have grown apart, and if they ask, simply explain that you needed to reorganize.”


If there’s someone (say, an oversharing cousin or a constantly complaining coworker) whom you can’t in good conscience unfriend, simply hide her from your feed instead. The next time she does a status update, click on the drop-down menu in its upper right-hand corner and unsubscribe from her post. You can also limit the number of status updates you see from her by using that same menu. That way you can declutter your page without hurting anyone’s feelings.


Status updates: At its core, Facebook is all about the status update. After all, how else would you know what your college roommate had for lunch? But be careful not to abuse the five most obnoxious kinds of updates, according to Real Simple readers: intentionally vague posts, chronic complaining, meaningless calls to action, oversharing, and posting too frequently. Instead, do a quick gut check and ask yourself if you really need to share that thought with the world before you post it. Read more about the etiquette of posting on Facebook.