Online Privacy and Tech Etiquette

Brush up on your tech communication skills and stay up to date on privacy so you can make the most of your smartphone, the Internet and social media.

Etiquette Tips & Guidance


There is no obligation to approve every friend/connection request sent your way. A good rule to try and stick to is to avoid approving requests from people you have not met at least once in real life.

Be mindful of who you add from work. There is nothing wrong with keeping your social media life separate from your work life. The degree to which you do or do not connect with coworkers online is a personal choice that should be respected. If you do blur the lines, be cautious of what you share.

Negative Comments

The easiest way to deal with negative comments, from a friend or stranger, is to simply not respond. If you do feel a response is necessary, take time to think about what you will say. You may find that with time a response really isn’t necessary. If you do write a response give it a proofread, ask a trusted confidant for feedback, and/or read it aloud before hitting “submit”.  


Only post photos you wouldn’t mind potentially anyone seeing and extend this courtesy to others that may appear in your photos. It is OK to ask a friend to take a photo down. A good first step is to untag yourself if you are in the photo, and then send a polite message asking that the photo be removed.

Status Updates

Stay away from vague statements and be cautious when complaining. Be mindful of the amount of information you are sharing through your updates. Are you oversharing? Posting too frequently? Before updating your status ask yourself if this is really something you need to share.


Not everyone wishes to be tagged in pictures, but it is near impossible not to show up on Facebook at least in the background of a party or event. A good rule of thumb is to not tag people in photos unless you are very confident they would want to be tagged. People that want to be seen in a photo will tag themselves. You can set your privacy settings to alert you whenever you are tagged. This way, you can approve or deny tags from other users.

Privacy Settings by App

Privacy Pearls

  • Your name, profile picture, cover photo, gender, networks, username, and user ID are always publicly available to both people and apps. Any additional information you choose to make public is available to apps.
  • You can deactivate your Facebook account temporarily under Security Settings. To have your account permanently deleted, you must submit a request to Facebook.
  • You can retroactively limit who can see posts that were once public under Privacy > Limit Past Posts.
  • Check out the Facebook App Visibility and Privacy Help Center for tips.
  • Check your profile to see how others can view it. Find this feature under Timeline and Tagging > Who can see things on my timeline.


Privacy Pearls

  • Profiles are set to public by default.
  • Private accounts require you to approve followers.
  • Privacy is not retroactive. Tweets posted prior to changes will still be public.
  • All public tweets since Twitter's start are archived by the Library of Congress and made available to researchers.
  • You can request your Twitter archive at Twitter Help Center> Downloading your Twitter archive.
  • Use the Advanced search option to review your tweets and delete anything that you do not want public.


Privacy Pearls

  • By default, anyone can view your profile and posts on Instagram.
  • Set your posts to private for a secure account by turning on Private Account under the Settings (gear) menu.
  • You have to use the app to set posts to private. You cannot do so from a desktop computer.
  • Private photos/videos, even when hashtagged, aren't visible to the public.
  • Private posts you share to social networks may be visible to the public depending on your privacy settings for those networks. For example, a post you share to Twitter that was set to private on Instagram may be visible to the people who can see your Twitter posts.


Privacy Pearls


How Private is Your Online Life?