Some Reminders On Social Media Safety

Posted: September 29, 2013 in Living and Life, Reflections
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

This past week, I’ve seen some things on my Twitter feed that’s got me a little concerned. A few of my friends whose feeds I followed have said or posted some things that I’m not sure they’ll be proud they posted a few years down the road. One acquaintance made references to drugs she wanted to try. All that, plus the crazy Twitter uproar where people said very racist and inaccurate things about the newly elected Miss America, who’s Indian-American, made me decide to do a post reminding people of things they should and should not post on social media.

Now, people who know me personally know that sometimes I have trouble with keeping my mouth shut when it should stay shut. And I know for a fact that regular readers of Rami Ungar the Writer know rules of internet safety like the backs of their hands. But I think sometimes that we’re not doing enough to keep people safe on the Internet, and if this post helps even just one person from making a stupid mistake, I think writing and publishing this post will be well worth it.

Besides, some of the people whose Twitter feeds I follow might bite my head off if I brought up these posts, so this is a safer way to go about doing it.

So to start, here’s some basic things that we should all remember about the Internet and posting stuff on it:

1. Once something’s on the Internet, EVERYONE can see it. Yes, I know your Facebook has a privacy setting adjusted so that only your friends can see it. But honestly, anyone with a computer these days can learn to hack into someone’s account, so don’t delude yourself into thinking your profile is safe from Internet weirdoes.

2. Once something is on the Internet, it NEVER goes away. Yes, I see the Delete button too. But have you ever seen crime shows? The data is never really erased, it’s just been buried. And as any gravedigger can tell you, something that’s been buried can be dug up again.

So now that we’ve established that, let’s go over some common-sense rules of Internet safety:

1. Before you post something, ask if you would say/do this in public and/or in front of complete and total strangers. If the answer is no, then don’t post it. I know, you may feel that airing a couple of N-words and saying sh*t about your ex on your Facebook or Twitter feed may be therapeutic and can get the message across that you’re upset. But people will really see this stuff, people you don’t intend to see it, and they may not like what they see. Would you like a prospective girl you really like to tell you she saw your Twitter feed to tell you she’s not interested in a relationship with a racist bastard who says horrible things about his ex’s vagina? I don’t think so.

2. If you usually hide something under your clothes, don’t take a photo of it! You’d think that this one wouldn’t need to be stated, but as Anthony Weiner and plenty of teenage and college girls have learned, that’s not the case. Every year, people take pictures of their genitals and send it to their lovers thinking they’re being sexy or naughty or risqué. In reality they’re setting themselves up for trouble. These photos have a tendency to get out to the public, and it can lead to all sorts of trouble, including ruined reputations, loss of families, friends, and even jobs, and even legal charges in some cases! So folks, don’t use your phone’s camera to take a picture of your sex characteristics, primary or secondary. It could come back to bite you in the ass.

3. Tweeting/Posting about actual or possible criminal activities is not cool. Don’t even do it sarcastically! I’ve read two stories in the past six months about people who had made passing jokes on their social media accounts about blowing up airports or shooting schools. They got arrested! Also, their was a guy in my state who murdered his wife and posted the proof on Facebook. I think you can guess what happened to him! And even if the police don’t show up on your doorstep, employers these days do look at social media when considering prospective employees. Trust me, they don’t like references to crimes. It makes you look bad in their eyes.

4. Drugs and alcohol should not even be mentioned. Doesn’t matter if it’s excessive or not, employers (and the police) don’t like to hear how you partied it up while drinking a ton of vodka or how you tried shrooms and coke together. For employers, they’re worried that you’ll cost them money coming into work high or drunk, and the police…that’s fairly obvious, isn’t it? So yeah, stay away from those references.

5. That comment you made about minorities or someone in a minority will come back to haunt you. Yeah, we may not think much of calling someone by a term that comes with a connotation of prejudice. In some minorities, these terms are used as an inside joke. But really, it will come back to haunt you when someone sees your racist tweet on Obama or your sexist post on a coworker and posts it on Reddit! Trust me, they will trace it back to your account, and you will be embarrassed.

In addition, if you see something about another culture that baffles you, don’t put it online as a way to ask questions or to ridicule someone. A friend of mine who’s a practicing Sikh has a beard on her face even though she’s a woman. She does it as a show of faith. Someone, perhaps not meaning any harm, posted it on Reddit with the words “What do I make of this?” The photo got some negative attention, and so did the poster. <My fiend though came out of it beautifully, not letting anything hateful get her down and ultimately forgiving the person who took the photo face-to-face.

6. If you usually hide something under your clothes, don’t take a photo of it. Yes, I said that already. But judging how often people forget it, I think it needs repeating.

7. Think about how this could hurt someone. Any time you say or do something, it has the potential to hurt someone. Maybe it’ll hurt you personally, maybe a friend or family member, or maybe someone you’ve never met who lives on the opposite side of the world. Either way, think about that when you post. It’ll make you a bit wiser.

I’m going to finish with that last one and wish everyone luck in future posting. And to the reader who may learn something important from this post, I hope you don’t have any negative experiences in the future with Internet postings, whether they be posted by you or someone else. God bless, and have a nice day.

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