We all get a hearty laugh, facepalm moment, or a smug sense of schadenfreude when we see screencaps similar to the one above, living testaments to human imperfection. There are entire sites dedicated to these fails, whether they come from Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, SMS messages, and other sites where one is able to comment or air out their own thoughts through words.
While it can be harmless fun, some of these online missteps can have adverse effects on one's reputation, and it could even extend to those in your social groupings. It can be dangerous, as the public's reaction to your faux pas could be very negative, or even downright violent. It can compromise your relationships present and future, and it can get you fired (and never get hired in the same industry again).
Those who make a living on their reputations like celebrities, politicians, and other important people have to be even more conscientious about their online reputation, as information on the Internet travels very fast, spreads easily to literally millions of people, and though it dies down relatively quickly, is never truly forgotten.
We all make mistakes, but it always pays to be very careful and heed some sage advice on how not to put yourself in a similar situations. Below are a few simple but effective ways to keep your social media reputation clean and not become a source of embarrassment:
Read and Think Before Posting
This has got to be the simplest way not to get yourself into online trouble. If you spent enough time fumbling with your smartphone keys in typing in your thoughts, you should also take the time to read what you just typed, consider the consequences, or check the facts concerning the subject (Google is your friend). There is no reason to rush things like these into the Internet, so give it enough time that your brain catches up with your fingers.
Check Your Privacy Settings
In just about all social media apps, there are ways in which you can direct certain messages to a specific set of people. This will come in handy when you have a rant or rave that your friends might appreciate, and people in different circles might not. For instance, your coworkers shouldn’t be seeing posts about how annoyed you are with their quirks, nor should your parents be privy to photos of you doing insane things while drunkenly celebrating spring break.
Screen Your Friends or Create Different Profiles
People who are connected to your profile can see things that you broadcast, and even if your profile is public by default, those who follow you or are your "friends" list are made aware of just about every update you make. Therefore, you should be careful as to which people you should let into your friends/circles/etc. The practice of having a separate private and public profile might be the best course for you to take if you can't help being an exhibitionist and can't be bothered with those complicated settings. Train yourself to use the right profile for sensitive messages so the sensitive stuff makes it only to the people you can trust.
Use Social Media Management Tools
There are apps that are aimed at managing a person's numerous social media accounts and general online presence. If you are particularly active in more than three social media networks, then this is probably something you should look into. Privacy issues can also be aided with the use of these nifty tools, but premium features might be locked to paying subscribers, so prepare to fork out some loose change. Things like removal from personal search sites, monitoring occurrences of your name or details on various sites on the internet, searching for people via an area code directory, and other features will give you a more secure grasp on your online rep, as well as monitor other people that are significant to you.
Have a great online social life!