When 'Poking' on Facebook, Manners Matter
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Have no fear. Britain's etiquette bible has come to the rescue for social networkers who are at a loss about how to behave with online decorum.
Debrett's have helped to compile a new set of "golden rules" for devotees of sites like Facebook and Bebo.
The rules were put together after research by the telecoms company Orange showed that almost two thirds of social networkers are frustrated and confused by online etiquette.
It discovered that more than a quarter were uncertain about how to respond to unwelcome "pokes" or messages.
Eighteen percent confessed to being confused on "how to respond to my ex when in a relationship with someone else."
Debrett's etiquette adviser Jo Bryant tried to guide the confused through what can be a social minefield.
Acknowledging that social networking has made new demands on traditional etiquette, she said "My advice is to play it safe and always employ your usual good manners when online, treating others with kindness and respect."
And you should never throw caution to the wind.
Mark Watt-Jones, head of development and innovation at Orange, said "Whether you are checking your Facebook profile or posting photos of friends on MySpace at work, these guidelines will ensure you never lose old friends or make unwanted new ones."
The golden rules compiled by Debrett's with Orange are:
1. You don't have to make friends with people you don't know. Think before you poke.
2. Wait 24 hours before accepting or removing someone as a friend. The delay will help you gather your thoughts.
3. Birthdays, engagements and weddings are not "virtual" events. Always send cards or phone friends when there is an important event.
4. Think before posting a friend's photo what you would feel like if it was you.
5. Think carefully about your profile picture. Would you want it to be appearing in your local newspaper?