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These are the unwritten rules of Facebook – BPS Research Digest

by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest

With over a billion users worldwide, Facebook has become a fundamental part of social life. Much as there are long-standing unwritten rules governing the way we behave toward each other face-to-face, today there also exist cultural expectations for how one ought to behave on Facebook. Now researchers at Trinity University in the USA have conducted focus groups and a survey of hundreds of undergrads, in one of the first attempts to find out what these rules are.

Thirteen of the rules to emerge from the focus groups received overall endorsement by the survey participants:

  • I should expect a response from this person if I post on his/her profile.
  • I should NOT say anything disrespectful about this person on Facebook.
  • I should consider how a post might negatively impact this person’s relationships.
  • If I post something that this person deletes, I should not repost it.
  • I should communicate with this person outside of Facebook.
  • I should present myself positively but honestly to this person.
  • I should NOT let Facebook use with this person interfere with getting my work done.
  • I should NOT post information on Facebook that this person could later use against me.
  • I should use common sense while interacting with this person on Facebook.
  • I should consider how a post might negatively impact this person’s career path.
  • I should wish this person happy birthday in some way other than Facebook.
  • I should protect this person’s image when I post on his/her profile.
  • I should NOT read too much into this person’s Facebook motivations.

Read the full post via BPS Research Digest: These are the unwritten rules of Facebook or go to the scientific article The rules of Facebook friendship – A two-stage examination of interaction rules in close, casual, and acquaintance friendships (Journal of Social and Personal Relationships)


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This entry was posted on February 3, 2013 by in Ethics & Policy, Science, Social Media, Youth and tagged , , , , , , , .
Lutz Siemer

Lutz Siemer

Education, Research & Development in Social Work & IT After working as an alternative practitioner and psychotherapist in private practice for nearly ten years I stepped over to higher education in 2005. At Saxion University of Applied Sciences I lecture and do research and development in the area of Social Work, Psychology and IT. Currently I'm focussing on merging mobile technology and social work.

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