Social media (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and many others) has forever changed the way that people communicate with friends and family near and far. On a personal note, social media has helped me keep in contact or reconnect with family and friends I haven’t seen in a long time. But for every good with anything, there is also a bad side when using social media.
Such as two students being recently expelled from school in Atlanta for posting a false comment on Facebook about their teacher being a pedophile, to people losing their jobs because of posts about their boss or employer. Colleges and employers are now checking out people on Facebook (including ALL posted pictures) to gauge their character before hiring them for a job or accepting them into their college. Law enforcement are also using Social Media for locating and apprehending people for various crimes. Social Media has also put gasoline on the fire of many relationship problems and/or divorces in the past few years.
My clients and other people have asked me all the time “Are my posts private?” And my answer is usually “Not Really”. Please allow me to explain:
1. Google and Other Search Engines will ALWAYS Locate Your Social Media Profile.
Next time you are on a computer, do this little experiment. Go to Google and type your name in the search box and single left click the “Google Search” button. Your Facebook, Twitter or any other social media profile will ALWAYS be one of the first things that shows up in Google before anything else.
2. No Matter How You Set Your Privacy Settings, Certain People With Certain Credentials Can Have Full Access To Your Profile At Any Time!
With the Stored Communications Act of 1986 – Section 2703, Paragraph (B) – Which states that a governmental entity may require a provider of remote computing service (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc) to disclose the contents of any wire or electronic communication. In addition, without required notice to the subscriber or customer, the governmental entity can obtain a warrant issued using the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (or, in the case of a State court, issued using State warrant procedures). This one section makes it legal for certain people to have FULL access to your social media profiles NO MATTER HOW YOU SET YOUR PRIVACY SETTINGS!
3. Plain And Simple, People WILL Talk And Gossip!
You will not believe how people are connected to each other these days. One person could connect up to five or more people in different circles, and some connections are made in ways that you may never know existed. You will clearly see this on a profile where it states that you have x amount of mutual friends, or on Twitter where the profile will say that you both follow X. And when you post something about another person, it tends to spread around and possibly back to the original partie(s) really, really fast. REMEMBER, this is the Internet, where information is created and shared by EVERYONE!
In conclusion, social media websites can be an excellent tool for communication (especially for small businesses), but before posting that negative comment, PLEASE keep in mind that major consequences and repercussions may happen to you, because of what you are about to say.