Ah, the wonders of social media. Isn’t it lovely to be able to post whatever you want? To blast your thoughts out into the world, and find solidarity in the people who agree with you? In fact, some of us may have found our communities and lifelong friends this way!
These days, however, social media is getting less and less anonymous. Not necessarily a bad thing, since it means people can’t hide behind a mask when they want to spew hurtful words.
It does, however, mean that you have to be a little more careful when you’re posting things online. Just about anyone can see it – including your future or current boss! For your own sake, here are some things you should never do on social media.
7 THINGS TO NEVER DO ON SOCIAL MEDIA
1. POST IDENTIFYING INFORMATION
Alright, so this seems a bit odd. We exist in an age where we’re posting selfies, showing off our beloved pets, and talking about our glamorous holidays. So, keeping your identity secret seems to be – dare we say it? – the complete antithesis of what social media is for. There are at least two good reasons for this:
· THE WORLD IS STILL A DANGEROUS PLACE
Your full name, your age, your address – these are all basic information that can be easily taken advantage of by the right people, be it a stalker with an ax to grind or a thief planning their next robbery.
· YOUR EMAIL IS LINKED TO TOO MANY THINGS
If the email you have visible on your social media is the same one you use for said social media (or even your bank account), you have a problem. All would-be thieves need to do is take that information, and that’s half your login details there. They just have to brute force the rest – and that, sadly, can be shockingly easy.
While you can make it harder for that information to be accessed, it’s best to just not post it in the first place – no amount of positive thinking is going to shield you from potential baddies.
2. PUBLICLY POST THINGS EMOTIONALLY
You’ve likely seen it – a post gone viral, is usually some heartfelt story or an incredibly satisfying takedown of some fool who got too big for their britches. It’s all satisfying to read, but it also stands as a terrifying testament to the fact that the internet never forgets.
Remember – even after you’ve deleted a post, all it takes is for someone to screenshot before something gets circulated out of your control. Consider the various people that might see and interact with your posts:
- Your boss
- Your future boss
- Work friends and colleagues
- Friends of friends
- Friends from different social circles
- Members of your society
- Total strangers
Alternatively, have you considered all these separate social circles interacting with each other? Is that really something you want, especially if you’ve been venting your frustrations where everyone can see them? At the very least, if you’re going to vent, put some thought into it first and be prepared for the potential consequences.
On the other hand, you could also take advantage of this. Posting things that encourage positive thinking and brighter outlooks are always wonderful. Perhaps you can publicly write an appreciation post about your friend, or post pictures of your beloved pets!
3. POST EXPLICIT CONTENT
While being positive about sex is certainly a healthy thing, the graphic details of what you have been up to really isn’t something everyone wants or needs to know. There’s a lot of reasons for this – and some of them are more obvious than others:
· PEOPLE DIDN’T ASK FOR THIS
If your friends are following you on Twitter or Facebook to stay up to date with you, they really don’t need a graphic description of your genitals’ yeast infection. It’s one thing if you asked for their consent to talk about it – it’s another to dump this information on them when they least expect it.
· IT’S ILLEGAL ON SOME PLATFORMS
Thanks to some more recent rulings, companies can get slammed with lawsuits over illegally-created explicit content – even if it is content created by the users, not the platform itself.
Twitter of the few remaining mainstream social media platform that currently still allows explicit content – but this could change anytime. And when it does, you might get into trouble.
· THAT CONTENT CAN TRAVEL
There’s no guaranteeing just where your explicit photos or content can and will go. What if your boss sees NSFW pictures of you floating around on the internet?
4. CONDUCT PRIVATE DISCUSSIONS IN PUBLIC
Yes, this includes the comments section on your friend’s post. The thing about social media is that it is very easy to feel like you’re carrying a personal, private conversation in what is actually public space. While that sort of heart-to-heart talk online actually has positive effects on your well-being, public spaces aren’t really the best place to do it.
With tech savviness on the rise, this isn’t as much of a problem as it used to be. If you rewind the clock a few years, you may notice some people getting angry at Facebook about revealing what they thought was a private chat. In actuality, it had always been public – they just didn’t realize it.
Still, it is very easy to be caught up with an intense discussion with a person on Twitter or the like, forgetting that all your arguments are aired in the open for anyone to see. The next thing you know, someone else sweeps in to hijack the discussion, leaving you shocked and upset!
5. POST WITHOUT THINKING
The internet doesn’t forgive, and it doesn’t forget. It can be so very tempting to post that video of you at work or to play up the villainous role of that ex who scorned you in your rant. The problem is, people can and will trace that all back to you – and that might just spell the end of your social life and career.
Need some examples? Run through this list and see if you recognize any of these people who posted something insensitive and paid for it with their career and social life:
- Walter Palmer, a dentist who had killed and beheaded a beloved lion.
- Justine Sacco, who made an insensitive, racist comment.
- Anthony Weiner, a New York Congressman who accidentally tweeted an explicit photo
As their posts went viral, all these people were quickly harassed by the internet into the point of obscurity. They will be lucky if they can get some kind of job without being recognized, let alone continue using their established online presence.
The internet can be a positive place sometimes, full of people trying to help each other. You just have to be careful about the times that it isn’t.
6. TALK BAD ABOUT SOMEONE BEHIND THEIR BACK
This one should be a simple one. No matter how vague your post, no matter how much you obscure it, someone is bound to notice if you are talking about them. And things won’t end well, once they realize what’s up. Remember – information travels, and the person is bound to find out, even if you have them blocked.
If you need convincing for some reason, here’s a list of reasons why you shouldn’t be doing this in the first place:
· GOSSIP SPREADS
Ever seen how a rumor grows? News spreads fast – and on the internet, it spreads like the plague. What may have been just a brief, minor vent about someone you’re struggling to deal with can snowball out of your control. And before you know it, you’ll need to do some serious damage control.
· IT’S HURTFUL
No matter how malicious your intent originally was, just like in-person slandering, it can hurt people. Relationships may be ruined, and their reputation permanently marred. If it all gets traced back to you, you’ll wind up in some serious trouble – or even a lawsuit on your hands.
· IT’S EMOTIONALLY IMMATURE
If you get hurt, or if you’re bothered by someone, why not take the higher road? Just talk to them directly, face-to-face, and see if you can resolve the issue. Who knows – perhaps it was just all a misunderstanding, in the end, one that could have been fixed easily.
7. POST SCREENSHOTS OF PERSONAL CONVERSATIONS
This one is just straight up a breach of trust. Unless you have the consent of the other person involved, there should be no reason for you to publicly post a conversation that was private.
Think about it – when you DM a friend or a colleague, you both enter an unspoken contract of privacy. Things said in this chat will be kept private, between the both of you – even more so if it contains sensitive information. So it doesn’t matter if your name was blanked out or not – just how hurt and shocked would you feel if you saw what was a private conversation with you made public?
Even worse – in this day and age, things go viral. Sure, seeing viral conversations from other people on the internet is amusing to read, but can you imagine just how it would be like if that was your secrets aired out in the open for all to see?
If you insist on doing this anyway, don’t be surprised if people stop trusting you with anything personal or important ever again. You would have proven yourself to have the online equivalent of loose lips, after all.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA SAFETY
Younger people reading this may find this list to be just pure common sense, but we have to remember that the internet is a relatively new phenomenon. The internet as we know it today only really came into being in the early to mid-2000s. Only in the last decade or so have we really started figuring out what internet politeness should be like.
As such, don’t feel bad if you’ve been doing these things. This is all stuff we are still learning, and still trying to figure out. The internet is new to us all, after all! With that in mind, hopefully, this article will give you a good idea of things you should not be doing if you want to avoid getting into trouble.
The final takeaway should be easy. If you don’t want something to be potentially used against you, then don’t post it in the first place!