Facebook is great for sharing embarrassing pictures of friends, jokes that aren’t all that funny, memes that quickly run their course, and links to stupid articles like this one. But there are many types of status updates and links that you should never, ever post. I’ll go through some of them here (and maybe you can think of others):
The Death Threat
The worst thing to find in your news feed on a Monday (besides all those OMG It’s Monday again! posts) is a note from a friend promising to kill you. It’s kind of a reverse happy-birthday post, where instead of somebody copying and pasting a false platitude to recognize your special day, they threaten to ensure you never see another one.
Whether or not you want to warn someone about their impending death at your hands, or fill them in on the gory details, there really are better ways to get someone’s attention. You could use the “Poke” feature, for instance; Facebook created it to avoid people like you constantly posting angry screeds declaring your vicious hatred and your plans to act on it. Plus, it can keep you out of jail.
Instead of sending death threats, find a nice kitten photo to share. It might help you calm down a bit.
When your spouse logs in, it would be great for her not to see your status update explaining, in sordid detail, that you were emphatically NOT working late last evening. Sure, you like having a “Married To”, a couple of “Girlfriends” and a host of “It’s Complicateds” in your profile, but most people can glean from that what you’re up to. There is no need to crow about your latest conquest in everybody’s news feed.
And there’s a chance you can get you and your fellow infidels in trouble with their jealous, violent boyfriends.
This may seem clever to you, because it helps you keep track of relationships, scheduled dates, and of course lovers’ names. But there’s an app for that. And though it probably has sharing settings for Facebook, you really don’t have to turn them on (so to speak). For example, Google+ has circles, so it’s much better for sharing your stories of your love affairs with like-minded friends.
Keep the stories of your cheatin’ heart to yourself, your beer buddies, and your little black book app.
Memes You Don’t Get
You’ve seen the guy in the “One Does Not Simply…” meme, and you’ve shared it too, I’ll bet. You’ve probably copied the ones with the happy running dude and that Australian pop band, too. But you have no freakin’ idea what they are or why they’re funny. In fact, by the time you see them, they’ve been out for a year and are dreadfully bastardized so they barely resemble the original joke.
Don’t share these. You may think it makes you look like you’re keeping up with the young and hip, but all it does is make you look as dated and out of touch as you really are. It reminds me of those people who use popular acronyms wrong all the time, like a mom who writes, “I heard you had Fluffy put down for feline leukemia. That’s a shame. LOL!” Thanks for that, mom.
People in their teens and 20s will let you know when quotes from Ghostbusters come back into vogue. Until then, please sit tight and wait for new photos of the grandchildren to appear.
Crimes You’ve Committed
You just came into some money and you feel the need to explain it. That’s great, but if you knocked over a bank and happen to be the ‘unknown perpetrator’ that the police have been all over the news asking for information about, it’s best to keep that under wraps. You don’t have to write up a ‘note’ telling how cool it was to knock out the head teller with the butt of your pistol, ‘just like in the movies’. And you don’t have to post your photo album of the raid.
It’s also best to avoid posting where you’ll strike next. Bands and event promoters do that, because it’s supposed to help bring in a crowd. In your case, it actually will, but they’ll be mostly police. If you are plotting to break into the museum to steal a rare Third Dynasty jewelry collection, just post “Hoping this new opportunity goes well, wish me luck!”. You’ll get a ton of attention from people who are not looking to arrest you. Little do they know.
And if anyone asks where you got that rare jewelry collection that just happens to resemble the one stolen from the museum, you can always say it’s just costume jewelry from the mall. People will have no friggin’ idea.
The Police Blotter
Sure, sometimes the police blotter report is funny, like a story of a guy picked up in Newhampton wearing a cardboard-and-tin-foil robot outfit and raving about the alien takeover, or a woman in Decatur who was questioned after she hung her family’s KKK outfits on the clothesline. But there are websites that find that stuff so you can link to them. Nobody needs to see the nightly list of speeding violations and DUIs along with it.
Unless you’re featured in it, there’s no need to post the police blotter. The local papers have to print these by law, and absolutely nobody but those guys with police radio monitors pay any attention to them. If you are one of them, btw, you probably don’t have a Facebook account anyway, and the rest of us thank you for your dedication in doing your part to listen to the coded radio chatter of those who keep the rest of us safe.
Actually, the weather forecast might be fairly useful compared to most of what is on Facebook. Go ahead…
Ever heard of the term [Spoiler Alert]? No? We knew that because it never appears in your posts about the movie you just saw where you reveal that Bruce Willis’ character is actually dead, the Titanic sinks, and Darth Vader is… well, by now these aren’t really spoilers. And that’s the point. If the flick just opened yesterday and is not based on a popular book, there’s a good chance that most of your friends haven’t seen it and don’t know the ending.
This kind of post may get you noticed, and after all that’s what you’re trying to do, but it will also get you dropped by any of your friends who like movies, which means just about everyone. I admit there is a small subgroup of people who would prefer to read spoilers than have to waste twelve bucks and two hours to find out which character is the serial killer (and I’m a member), but that doesn’t mean you should post them on Facebook.
There are entire websites for posting spoilers, just as there are websites for people who like to beat themselves with hammers. Join one of those (the spoilers, not the hammer thing).
Details of Your Illness
You’re sick. It happens. The norovirus has established a beachhead in your house and the whole family is down for the count. This is a very popular type of Facebook update, but what’s not is the color, the volume, and descriptions of the overwhelming stenches you’ve discovered. We also don’t need photos. It’s fun to share images of what you’re experiencing in your life, but a close-up of the toilet bowl you’ve been face-down in every hour is a bit much.
Somewhere there’s a website where you can post photos of your sickening vomit, and other users can probably score it. If you must show people the nasty, half-digested lumps of whatever you ate that came out whatever end in a liquid torrent that splashed all over the bathroom, use that site. Nobody wants to see this between pics of kids and joke postcards.
If you’re having trouble holding things together, a simple two-word update will do. We’ll believe you.
You have a political gripe and want to share with like-minded folks so they can share your righteous rant or ‘revealing’ conspiracy link. Fine. But if you want to know where you, an accountant for a software firm, can get 8 tons of fertilizer or a sample of weapons-grade uranium, Facebook should probably not be your go-to.
Most of your friends don’t even know how to get firecrackers without driving to a state where it’s normal to let kids blow off their fingers. Your friends have no idea how to get a crate of AK-47s or bring down the security grid at the Federal Reserve Bank. Your friends do not have inside information on any dignitary’s detailed itinerary, so it’s best not to ask them using the news feed. It’s also highly possible that authorities have a master key to Facebook that lets them monitor all accounts, so putting your plans for triggering a violent catastrophe in a status update is bad form.
Come to think of it, it’s probably a bad idea no matter where you post it.
The Time and Date
Usually everybody knows when Monday is, and they certainly know when it’s Friday, but that’s not enough detail for you. You for some reason feel the need to tell all of your friends exactly what time it is too. “It’s 6:15AM”. Why do this? It’s only relevant for a minute, and by the time anyone sees it, it may be several minutes past its prime. The first commenter is going to say “It’s already over? Sorry I missed it.”
The other part of this is the date, which is often a subject of interest on special days, like Pi Day (March 14 or 3-14), or any date that falls in sequence (10-11-12). That’s not what I’m talking about here. I mean any random date. Today, for instance, is June 11, 2012, or 6-11-12. There is practically no way to make that funny or interesting unless you’re an advanced theoretical mathematician, and even then most people won’t understand.
The only reason to post the date and time is when you’re announcing a birth, which we’ll bet is a surefire piece of Like-bait.
Company Trade Secrets
The code for your firm’s proprietary mobile app is a brilliant piece of development art, but that doesn’t mean it’s the equivalent of paintings or sculptures photographed and posted by your friends. Most people will fail to be impressed by your efficient algorithms, least of all your company’s legal department, who are constantly struggling to keep exactly this sort of thing from leaking out.
The good news is, if you feel like publishing your company’s tightly protected intellectual property of any kind on Facebook, there will definitely be interest. But it won’t be from people who will help you keep your job or prevent you from going to jail. It will be from competitors who are very interested in your company’s secret sauce.
If you have secrets worth anything, for crying out loud sell them, don’t give them away on Facebook.
Secrets About Other People
While we’re on the subject of secrets, there are probably a lot of details about friends, relatives and colleagues that you know going back many years. But just because a story is old doesn’t mean you should make it new again by posting it to Facebook. You may think you’re doing a public service by revealing what girlfriend number four’s rash really is, but you should leave that issue between her and whomever she’s shacking up with today.
Even years later, the affair your mom told you, but not your dad, about can open a fresh, gaping online wound. Keep it to yourself. A co-worker’s secret habit in the off-hours? Zip it. Where that smell in the office copier room comes from? Your lips are sealed. There’s nothing like letting the cat out of the bag because you think something is harmless and funny, only to cause major rifts in families, destructive battles between former friends, and mass firings of innocent people.
And even more importantly, some of your Facebook friends probably know secrets about you.
Links to Gizmodo Articles
Gizmodo was once a very interesting website featuring tech news and discussion about popular technology gadgetry and software. But then they published this rant “11 Things to Never, Ever Say on Facebook” by Sam Biddle, and revealed that any idiot’s moronic personal screed can get through. We’re sure that Gizmodo has driven many a young tech reader to wonder why the hell they’re still reading it.
Your Facebook friends are more interested in pictures of kittens doing funny things than reading Gizmodo. They don’t actually care what Apple is planning for the next iPhone until they can walk into a mall and buy it. A select few care, but they know enough to understand they won’t get that information on Facebook anyway. They go to a host of other sites that matter, and they’re also into crowdsourced fundraising sites like Kickstarter, because that’s where the real next big thing will probably come from.
Friends don’t let friends link to Gizmodo.
The Bottom Line
When you log into Facebook ready to share your fascinating wit with your slice of the world, think a little. You might believe that Facebook would be markedly improved if people started sending death threats, assassination plots, and descriptions of vomit, but if that’s the case your behavior on Facebook is the least of your problems.
For the regular folk, use this rule of thumb: If your post is something that will get you into trouble, arrested, beaten up, exiled, or killed, think twice.