Rep. Weiner and the Cautionary Tale of Twitter

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Published June 07, 2011

| FOXBusiness

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last several days, you have probably heard about Rep. Anthony Weiners, (D-NY), troubling twitscapade involving an underwear shot and a college student. 

After blatantly lying to numerous news outlets in interviews last week, Weiner finally fessed up to reporters in an oddly contrived press conference Monday afternoon where he seemingly dug himself into an even deeper hole. The scandal brings to light a cautionary tale that we should all take note of: Is there such thing as privacy on the Web?

From revolutions to the ridiculous, Twitter truly runs the gamut when it comes to the political world. There is no doubt that Twitter has provided an unprecedented all-access forum for information sharing, opinions and political commentary. The revolution in Egypt earlier this year demonstrated Twitter's incredible power and the capacity for social media to give voice to the seemingly voiceless, a power that not only changed the face of a nation, but an entire region.      

On the other hand, Twitter has also powered the rise of the ridiculous. The inexpensive and ubiquitous presence of social media sites like Twitter has prompted many to over share, and in many cases, over share to the extreme a-la Rep. Weiner. There are celebrities that thrive on sharing everything from the inane to the inappropriate, including intimate details regarding their sex lives to throwing out insults and judgments against rival celebrities; they tweet it all and they do it because people actually follow.

So, where does that leave us everyday folk?

The days of hearsay, when one could plausibly deny their off-the cuff remarks, are long gone. People dont just quietly chat among friends at the water cooler or local happy hour anymore, they post and tweet to legions of followers, many of whom they don't know personally.

Everything you tweet or post is tagged to you indefinitely, whether it actually came from you or not. Keep in mind that although he deleted the post immediately and tried to deny it, Rep. Weiner couldnt avoid the inevitability of the truth. Your social media account is your mouthpiece. If it comes from your account, it comes from you!

Because things can go viral so quickly now a days, you dont want to be the person who becomes an instant (and short-lived) celebrity because of a flip remark or silly photo. Twitter is pretty much public and you cant take this transparency lightly. In light of what happened to Mr. Weiner, here are four face-saving, or possibly job-saving, tips to keep in mind:

1.Monitor Your Account: Keep in mind there are a number of tools you can use to monitor re-tweets, mentions and commentaries. Always know who is following you and how you are being portrayed. Here are some tools to help:  

    a. Hootsuite

    b. Tweet Deck

    c. CoTweet

    d. PeopleBrowser

2. Personal vs. Professional: Make sure you keep your work-based social media separate from your personal accounts. It only takes a second for one follower to see a tweet and publicize it.

3. Know Who Has Access: Be proactive in case you are hacked or you switch computers at work.   Dont leave your Twitter page open on your PC while wandering the office and dont store any non-work related photos and content on your work computer.

4. Think Before You Tweet: Before you post anything on Twitter or any other social media site, think to yourself, would I be ok with my boss, customers, etc. seeing this? Keep in mind that your tone is absent and the context of your comments may not be obvious. For this reason, people can take your comments the wrong way.

We now live in a TMI (too much information) world and with the transparency of the Web, we probably expect too much of people these days. However, the unfortunate reality is that even the most seemingly-harmless of flip remarks have consequences. 

Michael Dr. Woody Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy and is the founder of Human Capital Integrated (HCI), a firm focused on management and leadership development. Dr. Woody also sits on the advisory board of the Florida International University Center for Leadership.Follow Dr. Woody on Twitter and Facebook 

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