The last few weeks have been really crazy on social media, what with the tragic Cynthia issue, the John/Jide story (fact or fiction, I don’t even know) and “The Lists” that have been popping up. Whether good or bad, I don’t even know. On one hand, we’ve had cause for sober reflections and on the other, well, let’s just say that idleness is next to stupidity. At least it’s kept one distracted from the woes of the land, the latest being Madam Perm Sec’s illness and Oga mouthpiece’s denial. Maybe it’s all part of the National Distraction Album, version 2012.
While undeniably social media has given us new ways to express ourselves I think we still have to remember that with new strength comes new responsibility. Just as most of us wouldn’t willingly run our mouth in public, irresponsible social media attitude can potentially ruin you and negatively impact your career, not to mention hurt others in the process. Here are some social media mistakes that you should avoid at all costs, because when it’s all said and done, it’s never as simple as “privacy settings” or simply ‘unfriending’ someone on Facebook or blocking on Twitter.
Never Post Illegal Activities
Please! This should be a no-brainer. It might be a spur of the moment thing, a need to vent but trust me, it’s not smart to announce “badass” things you’ve done or certain organization(s) you belong to that the law frowns upon on social media. 19-year-old bank employee Estefany Martinez and her boyfriend Ricky “Ricko Gee” Gonazalez got themselves nabbed after a successful bank robbery through their Facebook posts. Ditto Jesse Hippolite. But still, planning a murder, carrying it out and then publishing it a la Daniele Piampaschet and Krystian Bala style still has my deepest respects (not that I’d do anything like that). Even if your profile is set to private, a “friend” can always download, save and share incriminating photos and screen-grab posts that he or she or the authorities can use against you in the future.
Periodically review information and content on your social media in that way, you can untag yourself from pictures you wouldn’t want to make public and delete posts that shouldn’t have been up in the first instance.
Cyber Bullying’s A Definite No
You may think its all fun and games but picking on someone or writing embarrassing stuff about people is so not cool, even if it’s just on social media. When under any guise you turn to social media, blogs or virtually any online space as a forum for hurtful, hateful and often untrue speech against a person or a group of people, the risks are immeasurable. It can lead to violence, suicide, depression and discrimination and even incite sectarian violence. In my opinion, when people get sued for libel and writing half truths and outright lies, people will learn to watch what they post.
And don’t think it’s restricted to your peers. People who trash talk their teachers, bosses and superiors are doing themselves a great disservice. You may think they will not know but others might see it and tell them about it. You should even be wary of school/workplace or boss/teacher-related posts you think are harmless — you never know whose feelings you might accidentally hurt. I remember several classmates of mine “liking” a post our level adviser had up about a friend of his that died. Needless to say, they didn’t endear themselves to him.
Some institutions and companies thoroughly investigate the social media activity and personalities of applicants and employees these days. One negative tweet about specific topics, institutions and or geographical areas — these days, could seal your fate.
Never Post Confidential Information
This is and has always been my mantra on social media. What’s your house address doing on Facebook? Or your phone number or blackberry pin, if you intend to make it public information. Anybody can pretend to be anybody on social media. Protect yourself and your loved ones from stalkers. Try and avoid overtly specific check-ins too. You can be traced through them.
One other thing: am amazed by girls who post their bb pins on social media and ask how you got it. If you don’t want add requests, you shouldn’t have shared in the first place.
And we don’t want to know how many of your Facebook or 2go friends or twitter followers you’ve slept with. She may be naïve to trust you, but it isn’t our business.
Never Post Emotionally
We’ve all said and done things in the spur of the moment we later felt sorry about. It’s human nature to sometimes let the red mist take over and cloud our better judgement. Those times are the worst moments to pick up your blackberry and post on social media. As much as possible, try to calm down and imagine the consequences of your posts and how it can affect the feelings, safety and well-being of those around you — even the person that probably got you riled up.
Am sure Adele and Taylor Swift didn’t record the first words that came to their minds when they got heart-broken.
Never Threaten Violence
That dude has slighted you and you are as mad as hell. You want to put the fear of God into them so you go on social media and threaten the person. Or GEJ and his people have done it again with another unpopular law or action so you go on social media and threaten to blow up somewhere. In these days of Boko Haram. I see jail time in your future, my friend if you do not cease and desist.
Even posting an anonymous, empty threat to an obscure online forum full of strangers can set alarm bells ringing. In the United States, a student named Alexander Song (not the Barcelona player oo) posted his intentions to Reddit: “to kill enough people to make it to national news.” Police located the young man and arrested him at school, despite the fact that he carried no weapons.
Social media is not the place to vent your frustrations and violent thoughts. Posting an angry tweet in the heat of the moment may feel cathartic, but the momentary pleasure you get from writing it isn’t worth the potential harm it could create. Take a moment to breathe, think and reboot.
Never Use Unprofessional Public Profiles
Whether you are in school or out of school, employed or still searching for a job, you profile is going to determine to a large extent how people view you at first glance.
Whether it’s a Google search or a social media examination, chances are someone is looking into your history. And sometimes, even a completely private social media profile sets off red flags for employers. In today’s age of transparency, a professional (albeit public) profile is the ideal.
“Whenever I evaluate a potential employee, I always take a look at what is publicly visible on their Facebook profile,” says Ryan Cohn, vice president of social/digital operations at What’s Next Marketing. “On two separate occasions, I have rejected entry level prospects (finishing their senior year of college) for featuring firearms in their profile picture. Both were qualified in terms of experience and otherwise would have been worthy of an interview.”Andrew Moravick, social media specialist at SnapApp says “If you don’t want something to be seen, don’t post it on the Internet.”
For many, who think social media isn’t serious, wait until you happen to work for a professional who is active on twitter or is you friend on Facebook. I have had bosses who were active on social media so I know