Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.
In the real life, it’s fairly easy to toggle between public and private. What we express with close friends or partners is often quite different than what we might express to co-workers or acquaintances.
On social media, things can feel similar. You can choose to send a Facebook message to a single friend, or announce to all 500 of them some exciting news in your life.
You have some amount of control about what’s private and what’s public.
However, keep in mind that technically anything you post online or on social media could potentially be seen by anyone. Perhaps by a con artist hacking your insecure laptop, or by lawyers after finding yourself in a legal entanglement where your accounts are used as evidence against you.
Personal “News” Spreads Faster On Facebook
Earlier this month, Louise Linton, the actress-fiancée of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, announced via her Facebook page that she was the new CEO of Dune Entertainment. A screenshot of Linton’s post shows that she only shared the announcement with her friends on Facebook, but at least one of whom sent the news on to the media, potentially with the intention of embarrassing or damaging her husband’s political prospects.
The news was shortly confirmed by her reps, but did she mean to make such a major announcement this way? Probably not, as she shared the post only with Facebook “friends.”
The story got us thinking: Are we posting things on social media we want only to be seen by friends; not realizing some of us have hundreds of “friends” on social media?
Certainly, the definition of “friends” has changed. Inadvertently, you might be thinking that when you choose to post something “only visible to friends,” that only Bill and Mary and Jeff are seeing your embarrassing-but-funny-only-with-friends vacation photos.
More “Oops” Moments on Facebook
Just a couple examples of people who’ve made the privacy mistake…
Back in 2009, actress and former Mrs. Charlie Sheen, Denise Richards, accidentally tweeted her phone number out to the world, thinking she was sending a direct message to a friend.
And let’s not forget how easy it is to accidentally update your status in an embarrassing way – perhaps thinking you were sending a direct message to a friend.
Pay attention to how many “friends” you’re adding to your social media accounts. Are all these individuals your friends? Would you want everyone to “hear” or see what you feel like posting?
Your social media activity creates your reputation. Before posting, think: How well do I know my so-called social media friends? And am I about to post something for the world to see?