Tech News

Monday, 7 March 2016

Watch your mouth on social media

Prego
Zip it: Do not be inconsiderate or share your personal info too freely. — 123rf.com

Zip it: Do not be inconsiderate or share your personal info too freely. — 123rf.com

Being inconsiderate online has its consequences.

Watch your mouth, please. And please watch it online, too.

One of the worst things I see, and I see it often, is people sharing horrendously inconsiderate and sometimes completely inappropriate comments on Facebook and Twitter.

As a journalist, I’m always a big advocate of free speech but I’m an even bigger advocate of common sense.

I read a story not too long ago where someone tired of being the subject of abusive Facebook comments reached out and complained to that person’s boss.

The company subsequently fired the person. And if that makes you wonder how someone can connect a place of employment from a comment on a random Facebook post, then this article is for you.

Years ago, I came up with the SMGT, or Social Media Grandma Theory. It states that if you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying something to your grandmother, you should think twice about saying it on social media.

But if you choose to say whatever is on your mind, you should be a master at locking down your account settings.

In the example above about the person being fired from a job, it’s because your place of employment shows up next to your name on a Facebook comment when a website uses the Facebook commenting plug-in.

So if you’ve ever seen a story online and noticed the comments look like Facebook, that’s why. But even outside of the plug-in, hovering over your name or anyone else’s name on Facebook proper can reveal the same information.

But wait! There’s more. Much more.

The visibility of personal information can be completely edited in the About section of your profile: You can restrict your place of employment to friends, a specific list or no one if you choose. You can do the same with your date of birth (so you don’t get all those birthday wishes) or your education or the places you’ve lived.

Revealing certain information can actually be dangerous: What if you accidentally share your phone number and personal e-mail with the world? Believe me, you definitely don’t want to do that.

Your words can have consequences: There’s a huge difference between texting something to someone and sharing it on a public social media site. So while texting and Snapchat, for example, might stay between you and the person you are communicating with, posting a comment on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or Google Plus may not be private or friends only. Some settings, depending on the platform, are not public by default, but my rule of thumb is always to assume something is public and then double check.

Your words can be featured on someone’s website without your permission: When you make your content public, it’s out there. Websites often embed content that juxtaposes tweets and Facebook posts in with their content. This is called embedding, and doing that is not actually stealing or copying it, but showing it as it appears on Facebook in another place. Not only can any website with the technological capability do it, but the people who run that website don’t have to ask your permission or take it down if you ask them to do so.

If you’re still not convinced: My goal is not to silence you, but rather to educate you. I want you to realise that it’s easy to overlook potential consequences when you think that all you’re doing is speaking your mind to someone in response to a tweet or Facebook post. Nine times out of 10, what you say is being read by a much wider audience and information about the person saying it is more widely shared than you’d ever imagine.

So remember to watch your mouth. Please. And watch your settings, too. — Tribune News Service

Tags / Keywords: Science Technology , Social Media

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