Facebook! Twitter! Pinterest! LinkedIn! There’s no shortage of ways to share our personal lives with the whole wide world in the Wild West ruckus that is social media. But much like the uncertainty of an outlaw heading through the swinging saloon doors with guns holstered and not knowing what he’ll find on the other side, we should all take care to protect ourselves online with privacy settings and smart posting behaviors. Remember, any job selection process that you undergo in the future will always involve your potential new employer looking at whatever information they can find about you online – and use it to make their own judgment about whether or not you’d be a good member of their team. While that may seem like nothing to worry about if you are employed and don’t have plans to change your job anytime soon, just remember that anything posted on the Internet can potentially live forever. The concept of viral is not just a virus that spreads quickly, but one that might never die. Here are our basic rules for how to make sure your social media activities don’t shoot you in the future and how to avoid social media slip ups:
Use the most stringent privacy settings available, so that only your approved friends can see your posts, and never, ever post photos of yourself getting drunk/drinking/in a state of drunkenness. We know, easier said than done, right? All it takes is one friend at a party with a smartphone and the best-laid plans in this area can be quickly a waste.
Ask your friends to at least check in with you before tagging you in a Facebook photo – and do the same for them as a courtesy that reinforces the protocol.
Give your tweets “protected” status. This means not only that you will have to approve any new follows, thereby tucking your account from the reach of Twitter’s many porn bots, but your tweets won’t be visible on Google feeds for just anyone to see.
Use those connections. The whole concept of LinkedIn is built around the idea of a social network for work so it’s purely formal.
So keep the drunken photos for yourself and your immediate friends away from LinkedIn.
Remember that you are really sharing with strangers here. If you’re planning your wedding, do you really want all your guests to see the dress beforehand? Didn’t think so. Pinterest’s examination of our secret desires potentially makes it one of the scariest social media channels of all.
With all these sites, just remember one simple rule that has helped me a ton. Would I want my mom to see it? If not, keep it off social media. Enough said.