Social media etiquette: What’s rude online?

(NC) Participating in social media networks like Facebook, Instagram or even TikTok later in life can be great fun – a rewarding way to reconnect with far-flung family and old friends – maybe your friends are even bugging you to take part.

However, navigating the social niceties can be a bit perplexing for some of us who came of age without the internet. To help give you a leg up, here are a few handy dos and don’ts for interacting with others online.

Do: Use punctuation and emojis
• Without facial expressions or tone of voice, punctuation like an exclamation point or emoji smiley face can help express a positive attitude.
• Conversely, a one word reply with a period may indicate displeasure.
• Several emojis or exclamation points is overkill so keep it light.

Do: Ignore a message or request from a stranger
• It may feel impolite, but ignoring a stranger’s message online is a normal and safe choice.
• Unsolicited messages or requests from strangers often turn out to be scams. The person may threaten you or solicit you for money or personal information. So, it’s best not to engage.

Do: Check your facts
• With lots of misinformation circulating on the web, take information you see with a grain of salt.
• It’s nothing personal to go to the source of a friend’s post or investigate it further on reputable sites.

Here’s what you should avoid doing to be safe and polite online:

Do not: Post something you wouldn’t say in public
• Being kind should be a no-brainer, but it can be easy to forget yourself over on the internet.
• As a rule, don’t say something online you wouldn’t say to the person’s face in public.

Do not: Sign your name on direct messages
• It’s not necessary or expected. The person will know who you are based on your profile or account.
• If it’s the first time ever you’re messaging the person, then you should certainly say who you are at the start, but not as a sign off.

Do not: Overshare
• A few pics of your pets may be a nice diversion, but no one wants to know every detail.
• In fact, sharing too much online can be a security risk. Many cyber criminals are on the lookout for information they can use to personalize scams so you’re more likely to fall for them.

Find more information on how to stay safe on social at

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