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October 28, 2013

The Day I Went Viral

Social media's newest manners maven Randi Zuckerberg opens up about her biggest Facebook gaffe.

dot complicated randi zuckerberg

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Company

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I post family photos on Facebook all the time for my friends to see. I see photos of my friends' kids, weddings, and families. None of these photos are private, per se, but they are certainly personal, which means my friends trust me to behave appropriately when I see them. It's generally pretty easy to identify information as either public or private. But when it comes to personal information—that middle ground between something that's OK to share slightly outside your immediate circle but not with absolutely everyone—you enter a bit of a gray zone.

Did you ever wonder why, in movies about the Old West, despite how hot it must have been, the frontier folk wore heavy suits and always spoke in a kind of flowery, polite way? It wasn't just because it was fashionable—this kind of behavior played an important role in maintaining order in a strange new environment.

The Internet is the latest technological improvement bringing us into unfamiliar territory, and as with previous frontiers, we're going to need to grasp something that our parents, our teachers, and our communities probably spent a great deal of time instilling in us as we grew up, something known simply, for lack of a better word, as etiquette.

Even though so much about the way we communicate has changed, certain basic rules of decency and civility haven't and, in fact, may be needed now more than ever. In other words: Re-post unto others as you would have them re-post unto you.

Excerpted from Dot Complicated: Untangling Our Wired Lives by Randi Zuckerberg (HarperOne), due out this month.

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