Why You Should Be Careful About What You Say Online

By on March 14, 2011
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First there was the internet, and we all thought the world couldn’t get any smaller. Then came social media. Now, anything and everything you say on all of your favorite sites is being published in the public domain.

And, because many of us are blissfully unaware of the implications of this – it hasn’t bothered us much until now. Then – horror stories of people being fired because they said something on Twitter about their boss.

Businesses ruined because employees ran rampant in a public Facebook group – what’s happening? Well, thanks to search engines and social networks nothing is private anymore. Not if your name is attached to it.


Indexing What You Say in Real Time

Email is a fairly private form of social media, and one we have become accustomed to over the years. Unfortunately, it has managed to ruin our ideas on what privacy should be on social media sites. Don’t think for one second that what you say on MySpace, FourSquare or Twitter is private.

Each word you create and publish is carefully indexed by these sites and stored under your name (or alias). Real time searches and search engines will produce your latest comments on Facebook or any other network they like just as soon as someone types in your name or nickname. Every detail can be traced back to you. Anyone can access this information, even if they aren’t your follower or friend.


Private Is Not So Private On Social Media

If you think your comments or posts are safe in private groups, think again. Social media thrives on information. If you publish a particularly entertaining rant, in a ‘private’ group, it may end up on a client rant site – via someone else who has republished what you’ve said.

Next thing you know, there’s your name, or your business name, with a very inappropriate comment shining out for all the world to see. A lot of social media is recycled, or republished – especially the things you shouldn’t say because they are the most interesting to read. There are some things you should never utter online – ever.


Don’t Freak Out, Remember it’s All about Business

Remember when your parents used to say “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?” Well, like always – that rule should be followed. Think of social media as a direct line to your clients, bosses, competitors and employees. Assume that they can and do see everything you publish online.

That way, you’ll never stumble into a bad situation by mistake. The internet is no longer a platform for little groups of people. It’s everyone’s arena now. As long as you stay honest, pleasant and aware – you’ll be just fine. Don’t be afraid of your opinions, just remember that posting them on Twitter is the same as sending a private email to the people you are talking about! Most of all learn with every experience to improve the way you communicate online.

Finally, stay positive. No one in business wants to read about how sad or angry you are anyway, it never helps your image. Good luck!

Have you ever landed up in hot water over a comment you’ve posted? Tell us about it!

About John Souza

John Souza is founder and chief strategist of SMMU and Social Media Impact, and is a bestselling business author. He won the 2011 Tech Marketing Awards ‘Social Media Marketer of the Year’ and most recently the About.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best Online Education Site. John has appeared on The Michael Gerber Show, and his business has been honored at the Mashable Awards, Forbes Business Awards and The Stevie Awards.
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