What Did I Just Post? Social Media Blunders can be Harmful

The world is a changin’.  Us common folk used to pass our time by reading tabloid magazines and poking fun at Hollywood celebrities that do stupid stuff.  Social media has twisted that all up.  Now, we, the common folk are the ones that are under the microscope and being gossiped about.

No one knows this better than Mark Zuckerberg, the formerly outspoken blogger and founder of FaceBook.  His drunken posts on LiveJournal got him in a heap of trouble with former girlfriend, Erica Albright.  The confrontation was featured in the movie The Social Network.

As the old saying goes, a family that drunk posts together sticks together.  Mark’s big sister, Randi, is no stranger to taking to social media sites after a drink or two.  Back in 2009, the former marketing director for FaceBook took a rant about a New York City club bouncer to Twitter.  After he refused to let her and her friends in the club, she tweeted, “It would be a huge bummer if their FaceBook pages ‘accidentally’ went down.”

This caused a fire storm of backlash throughout the Internet world.

In her book, “Dot Complicated: Untangling Our Wired Lives”, Zuckerberg says she’s sorry and called the tweet “incredibly dumb and irresponsible.”  She says a couple of drinks before a social media posting spree could lead to a potentially career ending mistake and offers the advice of, “don’t post at all until the following morning.”

The Zuckerberg siblings aren’t the only ones to make mistakes online.  Almost everybody has made a post to FaceBook or Twitter they wish they could take back.  Life has changed.  We are now under the same microscopes as celebrities.

Even if you are not one to share your inner thoughts to the cyberworld, you might fall victim to a friend who is.  How many times have you seen a picture of yourself online and wanted to hide your head in the sand?  Cameras are everywhere now and with a tap of the thumb, your image could wind up going viral.

For those of us that make our living online, the stakes are even higher.  Your competitors are always watching and waiting for you to slip up.  Sure, you can delete a post, but just as easily as you can make it go away, your competitors can take a screen shot and that post will live on forever.  As Ms. Albright told Mr. Zuckerberg, “The Internet’s not written in pencil, Mark, it’s written in ink!”

So, how do you protect yourself from yourself?  The answer is simple.  Think.  Think before you post a crazy rant about a family member, friend, or colleague.  Think before you post an embarrassing picture.  think about how a potential client or employer would view your posts.  Think about how you will judge yourself a few years down the road.

Social media is a great way to put yourself out there and build a following, but it can also be used as a weapon that can really burn.  Don’t put the matchbook in the hands of your adversaries.

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