WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

Being sacked or suspended for an unwise social media post could happen to anyone. If an old social media post is found and perceived as offensive, or is against an employer’s social media policy, you may lose your job.  CyberSafety Lady Leonie Smith has the rundown on what is social media etiquette.


With so many politicians, celebrities and sports stars being held up to public scrutiny for controversial social media posts, it’s not just teens who require education on social media risks and etiquette.

Most institutions and companies now have a social media policy, but ensuring that you haven’t posted something that goes against your employer’s policy may be very hard to check. For many users, going back through years of past posts is nearly impossible. 

Public versus private
Many celebrities, politicians and sports stars have fan-based public social media accounts as part of their marketing strategy. Sharing not just professional promotions but also personal thoughts and private moments which may also risk more scrutiny and judgement and potentially leading to a scandal. 

For the everyday social media user, a personal account set to private is preferable. However many users don’t enable the private account setting. They may not know that there is a private account option or may feel they are safe enough on a publicly set account. Having a private social media account helps to hide your personal posts, but unfortunately isn’t a guarantee that a post won’t be seen publicly. Posts can be shared further than just to “friends” by being copied or downloaded. 

New social media accounts are usually set to be public. Users who want a private account must then navigate to the settings and enable security and privacy to protect their posts and profile. 

Some social media platforms are aware they need to do more to protect their users. Facebook has pop-ups to remind users that their posts or profile is public. However, if a user ignores warnings or decides that posting publicly is safe, then pop-ups won’t protect them. 

Instagram has just announced a trial of Artificial Intelligence software to ‘nudge’ or dissuade a user from posting if they are typing something mean or offensive. 

The consequence of posting something offensive or unwise can be devastating for anyone. Despite all the technology advancements, real intelligence is still far more superior to the artificial version.

The Cyber Safety Lady’s tips

  • Know your employer’s social media policy rules.

  • Get professional advice about social media if you have a public account.

  • Be very careful about what you share or post.

  • Set professional or fan-based accounts as a ‘page’ or a business account.

  • For public accounts, add a trusted administrator to monitor content.

  • For private personal accounts, set all privacy settings to the most secure.

  • Delete followers or friends on your private account you don’t trust or know.

  • Review, archive or delete past posts as you go.

  • You may need to start afresh. Deleting an account and starting a new one may be the only solution. However, keep in mind that your past posts have already been shared and may have been copied and stored.

  • Lastly, don’t think that it could never happen to you. 


Leonie Smith - The Cyber Safety Lady | www.thecybersafetylady.com.au