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living the life online… how to do it, have fun, and not get burned!

January 29, 2008

So you’re going out tonight, and you’re bringing the digital camera with you! All those great pics of you and your friends havin’ fun at the bar, and plus it’s your birthday, so you’re wearin’ a crown and a sexy top. Great! The next day you upload all the details of the night to your Facebook page, tag every one of your friends that joined you in the midnight shot of Cuervo, and blog about the ridiculous antics you all got up to.

So much fun to share your life online! Right?Of course it is, and Facebook isn’t the only venue. Blogs, MySpace, Twitter, Flikr, Friendster, Bebo, Gather, imeem, LinkedIn, Jaiku, Meetup, ok you get the point. There are hundreds more. The question is, as we grow more and more comfortable sharing our daily details online, how do we know where the line is when it comes to what is appropriate, and more importantly, what is NOT, when it comes to putting content online?

Maybe we should ask Mark Jen, Ellen Simonetti, or Mike Hanscom. Each was fired for blogging, and they weren’t even maliciously sharing inside information about their companies. In fact, all three were surprised that their company took issue with what they had written online, they were just sharing anecdotes, posting pictures of friends and having a conversation online, but in each case, what they had revealed in the course of blogging was ultimately considered inappropriate for a representative of the company to be talking about online.

Think it’s just blogs? What about that profile picture on Facebook? Or the wall post your friend wrote you? Just ask Charlie Barrow or Zach Good. Your boss might not be your friend, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know someone who is, so assume that everything you put on any social site can be found by anyone, regardless of your privacy settings. With 63 million active users, odds are one of them has a connection to your employer!

So now you have a clean Facebook profile, but seriously, you can’t control what your friends do! No one would ever hold you responsible for who you are friends with, right? Wrong. Just ask Officer John Nohejl, who is under investigation because one of his friends on MySpace has a link on his or her page to a porn Web site.

The moral? What you put online is not just a fun way to share with friends and family, it’s a reflection on you, your company, your family, your friends, your school and any other organization you belong to. In addition, even if you think you’re blogging anonymously, you will probably eventually be found out. (Fake Steve Jobs, for example). Keep this in mind when writing and posting! Follow guidelines for online interaction. And speaking from experience, never doubt how fast what you thought was an innocuous post can be spread to hundreds of people and create unintended waves in your personal and business life. The world of online interaction continues to expand, just be careful how you play in it!

(This post was originally written for my company blog, and can be found at prspeak.com)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. hollieiv permalink
    February 2, 2008 4:57 am

    Dont forget about Heather B. Armstrong- http://www.dooce.com/

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