With social networking etiquette constantly evolving, and privacy and security-related issues on the rise, there's good reason to be careful when posting about your family on the world's largest social media site. Chris Crowe, a social media manager for Apollo Group, the parent company of University of Phoenix, offers these simple tips for playing it safe with your family on Facebook®:
1. Monitor the volume of info you share about your family.
There are several reasons to limit the amount of posting you do about your kids. First of all, for the sake of safety as well as basic politeness, it's best not to overshare. You need to know your audience. Rather than filling up your "friends" walls with frequent posts about your children and sharing everything with everyone, sort friends into lists so you can differentiate acquaintances from close family and friends, Crowe recommends.
Then, adjust your privacy settings and the audience for your status updates according to these lists. "You're able to drill down with a lot of detail, whether excluding individuals such as your boss or your mom from specific status updates or not making yourself available on chat for certain lists," he explains. Close friends may be happy to receive extensive information about your adorable family, he adds, but your cubicle mate may prefer less frequent updates.
Second, if you're in the job market or plan to be in the near future, it's important to maintain a professional demeanor on Facebook, as well as on any other social media site you visit. With an increasing number of employers utilizing social media to research a candidate's skills and background, you'll want to be aware of how to conduct yourself online.
2. Consider taking your family members out of Google® searches.
There are several reasons to limit children's exposure on the web: You may, for instance, fear predators; or you may want to make sure your kids can control the content of their search results on their own when they get older.
"Beyond just setting your privacy settings to control access, you should consider asking your friends to respect your wishes with regard to tagging if you really want to remain invisible from Google searches," Crowe says. Further, he adds, people can tag your name without linking to your profile, which is still searchable. He advises letting friends know your preferences regarding privacy, especially for young children.
Another word of advice: You can prevent your children from appearing in Google search results by referring to them by their initials only rather than by their full name, but you have to ask friends and family to do the same if you want this to work.
3. Posting your kid's photo as your own is in bad taste.
Although everyone loves oohing and awwing over a cute baby picture, Crowe advises parents to stick with their own mug shots when posting a profile picture. "Remember, people are friending you, not your child," he says.
Crowe also suggests posting your family photos within an album and adjusting your privacy settings so only friends can view the pictures.
4. Evaluate the content of family photos.
Consider yourself warned: Facebook's moderation guidelines allow them to remove photos that involve nudity, even when the subject matter is, say, breastfeeding or adorable naked-baby-in-a-bathtub shots. "You may want to just email or text those funny bathtub shots to individuals," he says, "instead of posting them on Facebook."
5. Beware of sharing location information.
"Checking in" on Facebook is a fun way to share your whereabouts with friends and family, but you should keep safety in mind. "Families may want to be careful when sharing information about their daily schedule or vacation plans, as revealing this information may tell would-be thieves your home is empty," Crowe explains. He suggests sharing check-ins with only your closest family and friends.
Facebook is a registered trademark of Facebook Inc.
Google is a trademark of Google Inc.