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Tweet Tweet: How your history on Twitter and other social media can hurt you

First came the email. People were able to discuss any viewpoints, hoping and trusting that the recipient would not betray their confidence. Next came the text message. Once again, professions of beliefs and opinions were usually protected from mass consumption – to the degree of loyalty of the recipients, anyway.

Relationships can sour, though, and what better way is there to embarrass or exact revenge than to distribute some objectionable statement, or photograph, to others who might take serious issue. News stories abound with humiliating episodes of unwanted exposure of words or deeds.

Nonetheless, with email and text messages, disclosure is largely restricted to a finite universe. Not so with the various social media such as Twitter, Facebook, et al., where what you say is what we see. And, especially in this day of societal angst and hyper-partisanship, what we see can be viewed as objectionable or offensive.

People who take hard stances on issues on social media sites should be aware that such activity can be damaging to the “offender” – First Amendment notwithstanding. This is especially true of executives and known employees of corporations that are sensitive to a carefully crafted image.

Picking fights or letting off steam on social media can cause significant financial harm if a client sees and takes offense to some erstwhile post. It can also lead to morale issues in the workplace. Even the well-meaning posting of deeply personal and private details can be off-putting, especially to those who do not share such openness. Understandably, some businesses have even enacted policies prohibiting certain content that contradicts their purpose, mission, or values.

And unlike emails, which can be obliterated, a post to social media is like shooting a bullet that never hits the ground. Once fired, it has left your control, and it is always visible to those with the skill set to find it. This presents the potential for undesired discovery, whether removed or not. Let loose with a temper induced diatribe – preserved for posterity. And just when you are involved in some high-stakes negotiation or lawsuit, there it is again, showing you at your ugliest.

In addition, there are potential security vulnerabilities to social media posts. Your lovely vacation photos from sunny Aruba can be an open invitation to thieves. Plus, portraits of your beautiful children can lure kidnappers – especially if, for instance, you announce in advance the date of your family vacation in Cancun.

If you need advice about past, present, or future social media activities, contact the ResultQuest team at 713-781-9040. We can help you to avoid or uncover improper social media presence.