If you’ve never ever embarrassed yourself on a social network, stand up now. No, I mean it, stand up, and leave your computer, because you don’t need to read this. You probably don’t use social networks anyhow, so why would you need tips on how to avoid embarrassing yourself on them?
Alright, it’s definitely possible that you’ve been extra careful, but even the most perfect of us makes the occasional typo, and when that happens in the one tweet you’ve sent in the past month, it gets kind of awkward.
Typos are not the only way you can inadvertently embarrass yourself on social networks, though. Social media has the tendency to make us forget how public it is, so we end up sharing things we really shouldn’t have. I already told you about those things you should never share on Facebook, so today I’m not going to remind you again that anything you write can reach the wrong eyes. Instead, I’m going to help you avoid those unnecessary embarrassments that might happen even if your posts were seen by only the right eyes. Those things you want to take back, but once they’re out there, it’s already too late.
Feeling Emotional? No Social Media For You!
This should be your number one rule on social media. If you’re feeling very emotional — sad, mad, frustrated, drunk, or even super happy — the first thing you need to do is not share it online. In the past few years, it seems that every time something important happens, whether good or bad, the first thing people do is rush to share it on Facebook or Twitter. Don’t.
There’s no better way to ensure you embarrass yourself than to share emotional things. Someone made you angry? Just found out you’re pregnant? Sick and tired of everyone asking the same question? These are not good enough reasons to post on social media. Share when you have something worth sharing, and make sure you’re in your right mind when you do so. Even if you delete a post when you realize you’ve gone too far, there’s no way to know who’s already seen it and shared it.
Only YOU Tag You
This has happened to all of us. We go on a trip, or a party, or any social gathering, and later that day we discover a pile of unflattering photos already uploaded to Facebook and tagged. In case you didn’t know, when someone tags you in a photo on Facebook, all your friends see it on their news feed. If the album is public, any friend of yours that likes it or comments on it sends it to all their friends’ news feed. It never ends. On top of that, the photos will appear in the Photos tab on your Timeline for everyone to see. Horrible.
This gets even worse with the ability to tag people in statuses. While a text status is not like an embarrassing photo, you don’t always want the whole world to know where you were, when you were there and with whom.
Luckily, this is a major problem only on Facebook. To take control over the situation, make sure you’re the only one who can tag yourself. Go to your Facebook’s privacy settings, and under “Timeline and Tagging” look for “How can I manage tags people add and tagging suggestions?“. Enable tag review, which will send any tagging to you for approval first, and make sure that no one receives tag suggestions for you either. Better safe than sorry.
If you’re still concerned, read up on more important tips about Facebook photo tagging.
I’m a very cautious social media poster, and yet I’ve managed to embarrass myself in this way more than once. Yes, I try to proofread my posts, but I don’t really give it enough attention. And let me tell you: tweeting with typos is definitely embarrassing.
Were were these when I was a student? @utopiadocs is a paper explorer for scientists I reviewed for @pcwdownloads: http://t.co/xPD8m7YWni
— Yaara Lancet (@ylancet) March 20, 2013
Once upon a time, you’d have taken any public post very seriously. You wouldn’t dream of firing up your Twitter app, typing up an update, letting your phone’s auto-correct have its way with it, and then send it to the entire world without even giving it a second read. Social media made publicity easy. It made us forget that when something is public, it truly is public.
Be it a Facebook post, a tweet, a Pinterest pin or a YouTube video, make sure you’ve written what you really intended to write.
Talk First, Read/Look Later
We all know best, and we want everyone to know it. Social media is a great (and public) way to make our voice heard, even if someone’s just made their voice heard saying the exact same thing. Did someone post a status and you just have to say or ask something about it? Hold on, breathe (if it’s something emotional, remember point #1!), and look at the comments people have already made before you. Was this question already asked and answered? Did someone already say exactly what you wanted to say and got a response? Save yourself the embarrassment. Read and look first, then comment.
TMI (Too Much Information!)
I may be repeating myself, but I’ll mention yet again how free social media makes us feel. Even with things we would never discuss freely at work or with friends. Bathroom problems? We don’t need to know. Did you just have a horrible fight with your partner? That’s private. Are you sick? It’s not healthy to make others feel sorry for you. Did you make an important and personal life decision? It’s not something the entire world cares about.
If you’re thinking “alright, Facebook might not be the place for these things, but Twitter is anonymous!”, stop now. Sharing things that have no business being shared is not only embarrassing for you, it’s embarrassing for all your friends and anyone who happens to see your post.
Before you post anything, think first: would I say the same thing to a group of friends sitting in my living room? If you won’t, it doesn’t belong on the Web.
Get Acquainted With Frictionless Sharing
Did you know that many services share your activity on social networks by default? Did you know that, even without you doing so purposely, people could see names of articles you’ve read, videos you’ve watched, and tracks you’ve listened to?
Every time you sign up for a new service, the first thing you should do is visit the settings and make sure there is no automatic sharing. Not sure? Try using the app and check if it posted stuff on your behalf. It’s better to know now than to be surprised later.
Remember: Anything Can End Up On Social Networks
The truth is, every sharing is frictionless, which is very much part of the problem. Even if you take all the precautions and don’t share anything embarrassing, someone else can still do it for you. Don’t count on photos and videos of you to remain private. Even if you’re surrounded by friends who have no intention of hurting you, many people don’t grasp the power of social networks.
Make sure you grasp it yourself and get your friends educated as well. The only way to avoid embarrassments on social networks is to take control over what you share, who you share it with, and what is shared about you. If you need more tips, check out our complete Facebook Privacy guide and learn everything about Facebook’s newest privacy settings.
How do you avoid social media mishaps? Have any amusing stories to share? Hit the comments and let us know (just make sure not to embarrass yourselves!).
Image credit: jiva