Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tweets Heard Round The World: What You Tweet Can Haunt You

If you have not read the New York Times article "How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco's Life" I suggest you click the link and check it out now. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Photo illustration by Andrew B. Myers. from original article "How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco's Life"

Now take a deep breath and think about the last thing you tweeted, posted or blogged about. Could something like this happen to you? What would happen if your Twitter fans read your Facebook posts? Saw those pictures of you from that party?

We all know by now that we should be careful what we tweet, but the article provides a good reminder about the speed at which a single tweet can make its way around the web. More than that, it's important to remember that all of your social media interactions are public. No matter how selective you are about accepting Facebook friend requests or how few followers you have on Twitter, people can still screen shot, share and retweet all of the things you put out into the world.  Which means you're always one retweet away from going viral.

I use different social media platforms for different things: Facebook and Instagram for friends and family, Twitter and Blogger for author/writing connections, and LinkedIn for my day job and alumni networks.  The topics I tweet about are completely different from the things I post on Facebook. But what's to stop that old friend from high school I haven't talked to in ten years from turning my funny Facebook post into a tweet, or sharing it with her Facebook friends I've never met? Nothing. Nothing at all. Which is why I have to ask myself how I would feel if that Facebook post landed on Twitter or LinkedIn before I put it out into the world.

This is even more important because I am about to be a published children's book author. Yes, I'm entitled to have social media conversations with my adult friends, post funny jokes and share pictures from parties, but I have to remember that the information can be accessed by my younger readers as well. Even if I think the platform I'm using is private, I need to be mindful of the entire potential audience, not just the intended audience.

So consider this my PSA: think before you share things online, and remember that everything - no matter how private you think it is - can go viral if posted.

How do you think about your public vs. personal personas on social media?


  1. I read that article the other day, and it terrified me! The thing is, if you're on social media enough you're bound to say something stupid, or something silly that gets misinterpreted, or whatever.

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  3. I know! Anything taken out of context could be misconstrued. It's a good reminder that we need to think before we post.