Rules of Netiquette for April Fool’s Day

April Fool's NetiquetteIt’s April Fool’s Day, and although there are websites complete with the latest jokes and pranks, if you’re thinking of creating a digital prank on Facebook, Twitter, or your favorite social network this year, think twice before pushing the send button.

From breaking up with your sweetheart in a text message, to changing your status relationship on Facebook or pretending to quit your job, don’t do it on the public Internet.

As much as we enjoy humor and wit any day of the week, posting your prank on the Internet as a joke is a netiquette no-no.

Remember that you’re creating a permanent digital footprint which even after you delete your status update, might remain cached on your favorite social networking site or on Google.  Your tweets will be retweeted and comments on Facebook will be liked and shared.

To protect your digital reputation, if you must be a jester on April 1st, kid around with your friends and family in person and not the Internet. Make sure you let them know it’s an April Fool’s joke right away so you don’t harbor upset feelings that can get out of hand.

So if you’re worried about becoming an April Fool, here are some things to remember.

  1. Twitter – Check your tweets and @mentions a little more frequently than usual. If you plan on deleting a large group of followers, remember that gaining them back all at once might cause a red flag that you’re a spammer and the joke will be on you.
  2. Facebook – Make sure the class clown isn’t tagging you in unflattering photos. Set your privacy settings to notify you instead of coming home to a timeline you wish didn’t exist. If so, untag yourself as soon as possible. Going to un-friend your best friend? Don’t be hasty as you’ll have to request permission to become friends again and might even find yourself blocked.
  3. Blogs – Monitor your comments on your blogposts if they aren’t moderated and beware of the jokester in your life.
  4. Emails – Any suspicious emails with outrageous stories should be taken with a grain of digital salt and deleted.
  5. Texts – Don’t cancel a date or appointment or end a relationship on a text message as a joke. You might think it’s funny and your loved one might permanently delete you if he or she isn’t laughing.

Remember, even if you quickly delete your digital April Fool’s message, it may be cached and stored on multiple servers. It’s shelf-life will last a lot longer than the original prank, so remember the basic rules of netiquette. At the end of the digital day, you want to treat others the way you want to be treated.

Julie Spira is the author of The Rules of Netiquette: How to Mind Your Manners on the Web. Visit her at netiquetteexpert.com and at Facebook.com/rulesofnetiquette

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