It never ceases to amaze me how some folks manage to mess things up when it comes to social media. I could perhaps understand it a few years ago, when Facebook and LinkedIn weren’t all that popular just yet, and the former was more or less limited to students. But these days, I would have thought that people would know better. And to some extent they do. For example, as compared to just a few years ago, most people I see on Facebook have taken the effort to turn on at least some of the privacy settings, which hasn’t always been the case.
In any event, apparently we now have another first – the first person to have been convicted for a tweet. The prize goes to Mr. Paul Chambers, for this lovely tweet: “Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your s**t together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!”
He was convicted of sending a menacing electronic communication. Fortunately for him no jail time was involved, though he was fined and apparently also lost his job as a result of the prosecution.
Social media, privacy, personal information and one’s communications through them are, collectively, a very complex topic. I’m sure that if you wanted to, you could spend a whole day (or longer) teaching people how to navigate Facebook’s privacy settings. Or LinkedIn’s. That being said, I usually try to keep my advice on using social media very simple: Before you post, tweet, blog or send, imagine what would happen if whatever it is you’re sending out will appear on the front page of the New York Times. Would you be comfortable with that? If not, then perhaps keep it to yourself. Or share it with close friends or colleagues over a coffee or a beer.
I imagine this might be of a bit of an oversimplification, and perhaps even rather obvious. Also, if someone already lacks any sense of judgement, it certainly won’t help (then again in that case nothing likely will). And it certainly won’t help you if you’re, say, someone with unusual predilections who can use only social media as an outlet. All that said, I find it to relatively good rule of thumb. Also a lot quicker than taking a couple of hours each time Facebook, once again, adds another 30 settings to its privacy controls.