When you first start using social media, it’s easy to get into online spats, or say the wrong thing, which can land you in hot water. Even the most timid people become very courageous when they’re behind a computer screen, and once that button has been pushed, unless you’re really fast, it’s sometimes impossible to retract.
It’s also easy to forget that sometimes what you’re saying on Facebook and Twitter can be lost in translation; feelings can be hurt, or things can be taken the wrong way. And once you’ve put something out there, in the public domain, the damage has been done. We’ve all heard the stories of people losing their jobs because of something they’ve said on Twitter – or ending up in court because they’ve tweeted something libellous. That’s why it always pays to think before you press ‘send’. Or sit on your hands, until the moment has passed, if necessary.
The other thing that constantly amazes me is how much info people put into the public domain. I take great care not to reveal too much – I refuse to use Foursquare, for example, because you never know who might be watching your twitter feed to make sure you’re out, particularly if you’ve given previous clues to where you live.
We’ve all had those emails which are purportedly from friends in trouble, saying they need an urgent Western Money Union transfer or whatever. But now it’s spread to social media. Recently, a friend of mine had her image cloned on Facebook – it was such a shock for her to see her own face on someone else’s profile. She got off lightly, though, because apparently there’s a new scam where cyber thieves clone your profile, then friend your existing friends and start asking for favours and money. Just as you wouldn’t tell anyone your pin code to your bank card, you never give out too much information online.
It’s worth reviewing your social networks privacy settings, just to be aware of which people can see what information. The easiest and safest way to ensure that strangers can’t see what you are up to socially is ensuring that only people who you are friends with on Facebook can see your posts.
And I would really think twice before posting photos of your children on Twitter, unless your account is set to private.
It’s almost as though some tweeps forget that the point of twitter is that LOTS of people are able to read your tweets. So if you don’t want to set your account to private (and this does kind of defeat the object of social networking), then ask yourself this: ‘Would I be happy shouting out this information in a crowded pub full of strangers?’ If the answer is ‘no’, don’t press send. Remember, there is such a thing as ‘TMI’. And as I’ve said before, never, ever, practice social media drunk dialling. It’s just not a good look.
And on the subject of a different kind of partying… one of my colleagues was in tears yesterday because her smartphone was stolen from her handbag in a club on Saturday night. iOS devices can download an app called “Find my phone”, and should you lose it, be able to trace it should the phone be reactivated (although sadly hers seems to be gone forever).
Android has some nifty apps which act as protection from malware, viruses and identity theft – similar to the antivirus software you’d download for your PC. The Android market is rife with applications which contain viruses and malware due to their incredibly lax review process, so you need to make sure you’re properly protected.
These applications allow for you to not only locate your phone, but also wipe any data remotely, a vital tool should you have sensitive information you wouldn’t want to fall into the wrong hands.
And remember, the next time you’re going to post something on social media, ask yourself two very quick questions: ‘What will this tell strangers about me?’ and ‘Will I get into trouble for posting it?’
If in doubt, sit on hands 🙂