Social Media: A Call for Cautious and Conscious Communication

As the holidays approach many people will have more free time on their hands than usual.  There are many ways to fill this time and, increasingly, catching up on social media is a popular choice.  LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, any other outlets provide great means of sharing thoughts, ideas, information, and pictures with family, friends, colleagues, contacts, and others.  The next time you take to the Internet or other digital highway remember these basics:

  1. Do not make statements or accusations about people or businesses that run the risk of being deemed defamatory.  Defamation can get you sued and cost you time and money.  KEY TIP:  Truth is an absolute defense to defamation. so stick to the facts.  TAKEAWAY: Stick to the facts.
  2. Do not post anything that may jeopardize your job, career, or profession.  People have been fired for posting unflattering things about their (former) bosses or the places they work(ed).  If an employee is terminated for whistle-blowing or otherwise bringing attention to misdeeds at work the employee’s right to speak may be afforded some legal protection.
  3. Do not post in the heat of the moment or in the midst of anger or extreme emotion.  Once you post that rant or that selfie you cannot take it back.
  4. Do not post without knowing and considering your audience.  When speaking to your family or close friends you can maybe get away with misspellings, abbreviations, and cutesy expressions.  However, if you are posting on LinkedIn remember that your post could be seen by other professionals so spelling and grammar may be a bit more important.  When possible strive for polished printed word as it sends a message and sets an example.
  5. Do not post anything you would be uncomfortable having seen by your mother or father.  Sounds simple but this rule would probably save many people from much headache and embarrassment.

Your freedom of speech is often not as absolute as you may think.   If in doubt, leave it out or go without.  Be smart when communicating via social media and enjoy yourself.  Stay connected!


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