Proper Facebook Etiquette

#315 Friended out the blue: A new obligation to act

Tuesday 25th March, 2008

After falling out, my older sister and I are now not talking. She started seeing a new guy who has now friend requested me on Facebook; what’s the best response?

Facebook makes connecting and staying in touch easy; both on the eye (users are unlikely to put up a bad profile picture) and in terms of time-saving. Collaboration and network shares aside, ‘friending’ can be an anxious experience. On the one hand it is You the ‘friend’ requestee who has put themselves out there to make a connection, especially precarious if the two parties have yet to establish a stable ‘relationship’ status. On the other had as a recipient of such a request, and again when the relationship status is hanging in the balance, you must respond appropriately should yourself appear rude, needy, or completely uninformed about how to negotiate a connected presence.

In this particular instance the request has come from an ‘unknown’ individual, who credentials have only just been identified by your sister. Family feud aside, this will blow over. Unless you post something abhorrent on each others walls and take up your news and minifeeds throwing SuperPoke punches.

Some options:
1. Play safe, ‘friend’ and set to limited profile. So they are ‘in’ your network, just not ‘in’ your friendship.
2. Send a short and sweet message, BEFORE accepting or declining such a request that queries how you know each other.
3. Ignore, drop kick into the outbox.
4. Message your sister with a ‘hey guess what?’ scenario.
5. Delete Facebook account. Obviously not practical, but that would call his bluff non?

Ultimately this is about the subtle art of negotiation. Your sister may not want you to friend her latest companion. OR, this request could have been instigated in order to generate a response from you in order to open the lines of communication. Ipso-facto, its not about the friend request at all, but as a means to get in touch. Underhand and random certainly, but not sneaky of malicious.

Another scenario that does connect to the creep factor is that this particular individual, Mr X, is deliberately attempting to ingratiate himself within your sisters networks both online and offline. And You represent a portal to connections and potential information.

Personally I would stay out of another’s relationships, sister or no sister. I would however, take the opportunity to raise this with my sibling, to open up and gain the upper hand (and with an air of superiority) completely such down such potentially creepy and manipulative techniques of Mr X. Win, win all round. Both you and your sister are talking again, Mr X is the topic of conversation (another motivation by him no doubt) and you all avoid having to justify your actions, or rather non-actions on Facebook.

The increased person-to-person contact is an important dimension of social networking and potential SNSs opportutnities. The involvement of other people, the potential for harassment and obligation to participate represent just some of the daily dilemmas one must navigate (seamlessly). This is made more complex when patterns of use co-join formal and informal networks and then distribute shared information across all networks. Understanding the circumstance of where You, those around you and those connected to those around you are all networked to one another facilitates the integration of successful Facebook ‘friending’ and experiences. If in doubt, always leave the losers out.

A final thought: If you do friend Mr X and he turns out to be less than a desirable companion, You will have access to his networks, walls and ‘friends’… Oh the potential power….

12 Responses to “#315 Friended out the blue: A new obligation to act”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Maz – do you have a book out with how to do privacy and so on?
    Blog great but a book is easier especially if you are on the PC.

  2. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ AP ,

    This is a new one on me, but a similar ‘event’ occured when one Mr (I like devine brown) Grant was FB tagged having a good time in scotland with some wee lasses!

    Protocols and security aside, seems the legals begals will be making profits from these daily dilemmas!

  3. AP Guy says:

    Seen the story over here USA about security or lack of it? Allowed a guy to get private photos of guess who (Paris H or is that a publicity machine I hear) and others!
    The Associated Press verified the loophole Monday after receiving a tip from a Byron Ng, a Vancouver, Canada computer technician. Ng began looking for security weaknesses last week after Facebook unveiled more ways for 67 million members to restrict access to their personal profiles.
    The revealed snapshots showed Italian vacations, office gatherings, holiday parties and college students on spring break. The AP also was able to click through a personal photo album that Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg posted in November 2005.
    Some members of social networks like Facebook post photos of themselves or others in potentially embarrassing or compromising situations that include illegal drug use or underage drinking that can cause trouble at school or work. None of the photos reviewed by the AP appeared to fall into this category

  4. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ GD

    wow you’ve a ‘wired up’ silver surfing granny! how fabulous! i”m wondering if her friends are on FB and what she makes of SuperPoking !


  5. Grandaughter says:


    you’ve managed to conjure up the true beauty of social networking. even my nan understands what it is now!

    Thanks! Great blog! you in the Top 10 yet anywhere?

  6. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ joe Jersey.

    I have that book. A ‘jokey’ xmas present. Funnily enough the spines barely been broken, but I hear that it works as a great table mat!

    As for ‘frenemy’s’ ; i’m wondering if ‘they’ the FB ‘guys’ are going to come up with a ‘frenemy’ counter to go alongside the ‘friend’ encounter on the site


    Maybe i should write the equivalent book!


  7. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ college anon…

    good FB tatic, how rude that you were tracked through your groups. I only hope that you ‘blocked user’ with your new account. Now there’s no need for such behaviour offline, one can run away and hide. i suppose that the new FB account is the online social equivalent!

  8. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ notmuch said…

    FB too complex? like most things in life, only if you make it so! Personally i like to keep things simple, not to have an overly MySpacey-esque profile page with too many gizmos and gadgets to annoy my ‘friends’.

    Other more ‘complex’ issues such as when to poke, when not to poke i’m still working out on here…

  9. Joe Jersey says:

    Love your Blog. Wish I found it earlier. Your suggestions and ideas are much better and easier to follow than the The Facebook Book I got by three guys who like up make up words like frenemey that I have never heard of anywhere else.
    Keep up the good work

  10. Anonymous says:

    fyi my college ex drove me off Facebook by pimping out my groups,

    I Came back with a new id and kept him out :)

  11. NotMuch says:

    A question
    Is Facebook getting over complex?
    You suggest settings and so on but there are piles of apps and ways to using and sorting the thing. I have a phone that does the usual + music, camera, lots of stuff I never use or know about. B it like Office I use at work.
    Seems they have to add or change things but would it be different if few things changed and it was all basic and simple?

  12. Anonymous says:

    U so right. I carve connection but hate what it brings back and have sometimes manipulated things. No relationship but opps the boy does not use facebook …

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