Posted by: peterhact | November 7, 2010

Social media – Tool and Trap

Social media is great. we can contact people globally, we can form relationships with strangers on face value, we can gain business and expand our reach.

There is a side to social media that we seem to miss. Social media can be damaging. through casual comments, we can put our companies at risk, or ourselves. We share so much info online, who can tell what we are sharing that is dangerous?

If you look at the various mediums in Social media, the standout for damage is facebook. de-friend someone in a cleanup of contacts may hurt their feelings, de-friend them on purpose surely will.

Comment on what has happened recently at work – lazy colleagues, inept bosses, etc, and someone out there, somewhere will probably know them. Not a good way to get a meeting with HR. Facebook or Fb also has other surprise ways to offend. Groups are set up for everything. Join a group that is offensive to someone else you know and get a fast track to losing that friend or colleague’s good opinion of you, overnight or faster.

Groups may start off innocently enough, but if the element in them changes to the negative, and the admin isn’t able to pick up on it, then the comments will swing to the nasty side.

For example, a group is started to reflect on the attitude of people on illegal immigration. This is more about the ways that the group can deal with the implications in their particular sphere of visibility, rather than having a soapbox to spew their nasty negative propaganda.

Elements start to creep in that are influencers – subtle, without outlandish statements, they can turn opinion without actually appearing to do so.

As the group grows, more and more negative elements have joined until, there are more comments about the eureka flag, unions, australian values and “they should turn the boats around” than there are about the fundamental reasons that these people try so hard to escape their personal situations and travel in a tiny boat across open ocean, or catch a plane on false documentation in the dim hopes that they will survive and not be sent home to probable death.

remember, some groups had good intentions when they started up, they just didn’t end up in that same space at the end.

Twitter is the same. comments made “off the cuff” can lead to hostility, avoidance and in the worst case, outright hatred of a tweeter. The way to ensure that you aren’t put in a difficult situation is to consider that your mum or grandma may read the posts you present. (not my grandma, but my aunts or uncles may read it to her – I would be mortified if I wrote something that offends)

Social Media is a tool. If you think that the conversation or interaction you are having is personal, forget it. Just because you said something to one person doesn’t mean that they are the only reader, they might share it with others, who share it with others etc, etc. You are joining a global community. Don’t make it a trap, the damage you may cause yourself, the company you work for and your family may never be undone.

interact as if you are talking to a group of people with many varied opinions. keep your conversations away from work,  make them about you and your opinions, don’t drag innocent people or companies into your comments.



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Peter Holland, Peter Holland. Peter Holland said: Social media – Tool and Trap: […]

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