Chances are you are among the billions of people worldwide using social media. Whether you are a Facebook newbie or a LinkedIn master, there are actions and posts that can quickly make you a persona non grata on any social media channel.
Be mindful that anything you post will be public for a long time, advises Geoffrey James, contributing editor for Inc. If you publish something inaccurate, cruel or just regrettable, it can spread quickly and the fallout can last months or years, even if you delete the original post.
So if you don’t want to see your friends list dwindle or even find yourself blocked, here are some things you should never publish on social media accounts.
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”
Criticism of individuals
Whether you are unhappy with your spouse or angry with a friend or co-worker, airing grievances on a public forum is always in poor taste. Remember the wisdom of Thumper rabbit from the “Bambi” Disney movie: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”
Free speech is a tenet of our society, but just because you have the right doesn’t mean you should share your biased opinions with the world. People used to avoid speaking about politics and religion at social gatherings to ensure civility. Social media could benefit from similar restraint.
“What if we had an opinion, but chose to listen to someone else’s before sharing ours?” queries writer Hannah Rosenboom in an article for the Huffington Post. “We’d likely learn things. Our minds — and hearts, for that matter — would start to expand to hold more than just our small viewpoint.”
Material that doesn’t belong to you
Social media is designed for sharing thoughts, experiences, information and more. Unfortunately, some people share things that don’t belong to them. Whether you are posting an image, a statement or a meme, “don’t violate copyright, fair use, or financial disclosure laws,” James writes. “When you quote somebody, link back to the source if possible.”
Images of drinking and drug use
Many employers and prospective employers regularly peruse personal social media accounts. Writing for Bazaar, Lauren Alexis Fisher explains, “When your Instagram feed or Facebook timeline starts to look like an outtake reel of ‘The Hangover,’ then it’s a problem.”
Even if you are just having a good time, employers, clients and business associates will be turned off by a stream of partying images. That doesn’t even include the possibility the images could be seen by law enforcement officials.
Fake news or other information that isn’t true
After the 2016 presidential campaign, Facebook and other social media forums established protocols for limiting the distribution of deliberately misleading content, but plenty of it still circulates.
In addition to being misleading, fake news often is the delivery mechanism for malware, explains an article on csoonline.com. When you share false information, not only do you risk losing credibility, you jeopardize sharing privileges because social media companies don’t like it when people hijack their platforms for nefarious purposes.
Gloom and negativity
Avoid depressing posts. If you use social media for an emotional dumping ground, people will start to avoid your posts, just as if you were doing the same thing in person. Dealing with negativity is draining.
Instead of complaining about your health, your job, your love life, your neighbors, etc., resolve to share positive, funny, light-hearted and optimistic messages. Your social media popularity will increase as others recognize you as a source of strength rather than a harbinger of gloom.
Social media is here to stay. Of the world’s 7.6 billion inhabitants, 3.03 billion are active social media users, according to brandwatch.com. Using common sense and adhering to a few social media behavior guidelines can help grow your personal and business online presence.
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