We’ve all been on the wrong side of a camera lens, doing silly things we wouldn’t necessarily want posted in a public forum. Of course YOU know that you don’t want a picture of yourself drinking like a fish to appear on Facebook, where you just happen to be friends with your boss and/or clients, but that doesn’t mean your friends can be trusted with the same discretion.
Much like businesses have social media policies in place, it doesn’t hurt for you to have a policy in place with your friends. It’s a little less formal, but it goes something like this: “Hey, dummy! Don’t tag me in photos! I’m friends with my boss online.”
If you want to be tagged in a photo, you can always do it yourself, so let your friends know this is your preference, or be sure your privacy settings require your approval if someone else tries to tag you.
You can also try not posing for inappropriate pictures in the first place, but sometimes that can’t be avoided. We’re all human. And it’s not about never having any fun or never sharing the fun. It’s about knowing when that sharing is appropriate. And not leaving it up to anyone who’s a six-pack down.
Why is it so important to watch what gets posted on your behalf? Because anything that’s really salacious on the Internet gets shared exponentially at an alarming rate. There’s a reason it’s called “going viral.” It can’t be controlled. There’s no antibiotic, no cure. You can’t do anything except make sure it’s not there to be shared in the first place.
So again it comes down to policing your own behavior and policing what can be shared by others, so that nothing has an opportunity to go viral – unless you want it to.
The reason you want to avoid #1 and #2 is because once something’s on the Internet, it’s ON THE INTERNET. It can’t be taken down. Consider Erin Andrews, sports reporter and new co-host of Dancing with the Stars. In 2009 Erin was stalked and filmed through peepholes in hotel rooms (she wasn’t the only one, by the way), and the videos were posted online. What happened wasn’t her fault, and luckily the FBI was able to catch the perpetrator of this horrible act. Even so, the videos are forever online and there’s nothing Erin, the FBI, or anyone else can do about it.
So remember these three points as you’re traversing the tricky landscape of the Web, and make sure that whatever is out there with your name and face attached is something that you don’t mind being there, literally, forever.
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