Social Media: a reminder to watch your fingers

Bloggers, parents, friends… we’re all involved in social media. Whether we’re on Facebook, twitter, pinterest or just sending an email, every time we type and hit “post” or “send”, it’s inscribed in the waves of the Internet.

As we all know, there have been several instances of “private” things on Facebook not staying private lately. There have been Facebook private messages showing up on Facebook walls. There have been concerns (not proven) of private group comments showing up in feeds (note, Melanie is updating the linked post today). Several times, in other groups, people have copied and pasted conversations onto their blogs and into emails and shared them outside groups.

It’s not just Facebook. It happens in texting, when you accidentally text the wrong person. Or when your private text message is shared with someone else. It happens on MySpace. Twitter. Forums. Blogs. It can probably even happen on Moshi Monsters and Club Penguin. My point: what you mark as private might not stay private forever.

Digital imprint ownership laws: there aren’t any

Copyrights transfer to the public domain 70-120 years post publishing. The other night, I had a dream, or nightmare, that a new law was written giving a lesser time span for online media. But, actually, what you’re social sharing may not have a copyright. When does your privacy on your digital imprint run out? Ironically, I started searching for an answer this morning and found that just yesterday c|net posted a story: Who Controls Your Digital Assets Post-Mortem?

Virtually no law regulates what happens to a person’s online existence after his or her death. This is true even though individuals have privacy and copyright interests in materials they post to social networking sites.

Ladies. Gentlemen. Children. As of today, you may something in “private” but it’s not locked down. What you say, what you post, what you say to each other in emails… it can all be shared: today, tomorrow, in sixty years. Not only are you opening yourself to a possibility of giving yourself a bad name when you accuse people of things in emails or when you post inappropriate things in Facebook groups, messages or your wall, or when you post on Pinterest, twitter, anywhere… You also give a bad name to those involved and to the groups and associations of which you are a member.

Stop and Think

I feel like I’m back in my 4th grade classroom, but this needs to be said: Stop and think before taking action. Stop before you send someone a nasty email. Stop before you post something that has nothing to do with business in a business-related group. Stop before you accuse someone. Stop before you share your inner most secrets.

Think. What you say and do gets around.

What you say online effects you. Forever.

And if you’re in this field professionally, keep in mind that there are eyes everywhere. People talk. In the case of bloggers: bloggers talk to marketers. Bloggers are marketers. Marketers talk to marketers. They recommend others for campaigns. In the case of students: people look at your Facebook wall before they hire you for a job, before they accept you into college. Yesterday, I visited a Facebook wall before hiring a new babysitter. Last month, I Google searched my son’s teacher’s name before school started.

Friends, I know of a person who was not hired for a job because of one Facebook status 3 years ago. I know of bloggers who were cut from campaigns because of writing a harsh email that replied all. Another sent a private email, calling someone rude. That email was shared in a private group.

You can’t put the toothpaste back into the tube.

Image courtesy of [image creator name] /

mom of 3 and wife living in the Philadelphia suburbs, Julie is a former elementary school teacher and a Public Relations manager. She is the owner/editor of Julieverse, a merchandiser with Chloe + Isabel ( and founder VlogMom and Splash Creative Media. A marketing strategist and freelance education and parenting writer by trade, Julie attempts to carve out time to enjoy playing with her kids, PTO, cooking and exercise.

© 2012, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.


  1. says

    Thank you for writing this. I feel like this is something many people should know, but they don’t. It’s one of the reasons I’m trying to teach my kids that NOW so they don’t go into their adult lives and make mistakes that effect them permanently.

  2. says

    I’ve given this talk to my kids, but one thing I hadn’t considered until now, is that one day wen I’m gone, a loved one will have access to my old accounts, including private messages and such. That’s something to keep in mind.

  3. says

    Such great reminders. I’m crazy careful about what I say in any digital format but I do let my guard down sometimes in emails and chats. We must always be careful.
    And emails are soooo dangerous. In my former life as a software developer, I accidentally hit reply instead of forward and sent an email to my boss complaining about her. Fortunately, since I tend to self-edit all the time, I didn’t even curse in the email even though it was in my head and almost typed it. I could have been fired over that email. It still haunts me how I felt as soon as I hit send and I realized what I’d done.

  4. says

    oh wow I could not have stumbled upon this at a better time. I have a busy / crafy blog and over the last few weeks I’ve really been wanting to get my personal blog going again – more for journaling purposes but also to share my journey of my little girl that had a stroke. I’ve been really struggling on whether or not to keep the blog totally open and detailed – okay I guess mainly I’ve been debating if I use my Kids names or not??? So your post doesn’t totally address it but it puts more thoughts / consideration into what I want to do with my blog — any thoughts on using my kids personal names? I know some bloggers do and some don’t? Thanks! I’m off to scour more of your site!

    • says

      Naoni, So glad you found this post! First, warm thoughts for your daughter. I can’t imagine how life changing that must be for you.

      As you’ve probably noticed, I call my kids Big, Middle and Little online. I’ve just always wanted to make sure that I’m telling MY story and not their stories. So it’s really important to me to keep their names out of it. At this point, my kids have a say in what goes online and what doesn’t (they’re 9, 7 and 3). My 7 year old loves being on YouTube but hates the idea that I talk about him (oops. I just did.) Both insist they know before I mention them at all. (And I respect that. I even mentioned my response to you.) I recently had an opportunity to be paid to tell a personal story about them. When I expressed it to them they said “no way.” Even when I offered to split the fees.

      I guess that’s my way of saying think long and hard about what and how much you share. I just know that they’d be horrified if a friend googled their names and found tons of information about them, because they’re more private people that way. I know not everyone’s like that. It seems like there’s a pretty good split between the namers and the unnamers. But if you’re daughter is old enough, then I’d say ask her.

      Oh my. I rambled and really came up with nothing. I suppose it’s a personal choice, really. Best wishes to you, you’re little one and your family.


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