Social Media Rule #1: Don’t Be An Idiot

So, did you hear about the White House national security staffer who got fired over his private Twitter account? Apparently the bosses didn’t much like what he was posting, and once they finally figured out who he was, he was out the door. If you check out some of his archived posts, you’ll understand why: besides criticizing Administration policy, he was less than diplomatic all around — and in politics, there are usually consequences when you piss people off unnecessarily.

Many corporations and nonprofits now have social media policies that cover what their employees can and can’t do on their private accounts, some of which are quite detailed and limiting. Others simply tell people to use good judgment in what they say or do…and that’s actually what really matters most of the time. Rule #1 of posting on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Pinterest and every other public channel out there? Don’t be an idiot.

Simple advice, eh? But it’s remarkable how often that rule get broken, sometimes when millions of dollars are at stake. You may THINK that your secret account is safe, but trust me — very little stays anonymous online for very long. So: don’t be an idiot.

BTW, for some advice on how to use Twitter WITHOUT incurring the wrath of the Social Media Gods, check out the Social Media Cheat Sheet: Ten Rules and Sixteen Tips for Success on Twitter.

Update: See how they caught the guy. Note: similar to how the U.S. got the Japanese Navy to inadvertently reveal that the target known as “AF” in their coded transmissions was Midway Island, a key fact lead to the the U.S. victory there in 1942.


Written by
Colin Delany
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