Ask Ms. Social Networking Manners

Dear Ms. Social Networking Manners,

I’m a professional athlete who sometimes gets bored off the field. There’s only so much television you can watch, so that’s why I like to hop on Twitter. I especially like to do this when I’m really angry about something. But I’ve discovered I get a big backlash when I do this. I’ve blamed the Mad Twitter Hacker, but the problem is no one believes there is a Mad Twitter Hacker and they still get mad at me. I don’t get it — nobody is really reading Twitter anyway, right?

Any professional athlete, any city


Dear Any Athlete,

Ah yes, it may come as a big surprise to you, but people actually do read tweets. And (brace yourself) they also read what you post on Facebook, Linked In, your blog, etc.


I know it can sometimes feel like you’re just typing away and no one is paying any attention, but that just isn’t true. People ARE reading, even if they don’t always comment. And let’s not forget what you put out there in the Internet Universe tends to stay out there.

Ms. Social Networking Manners also suggests that when you’re angry, you may want to count to ten BEFORE you tweet or post on Facebook. That little tidbit works nicely regardless if you’re face-to-face with someone or over social networking. And it’s just good manners.


Dear Ms. Social Networking Manners,

I’m a politician who recently got caught sending naughty pictures of myself through the Twitter Direct Message. Apparently the Direct Message wasn’t private, it showed up on the public stream. I blamed the Mad Twitter Hacker, but I still ended up resigning because no one believed me. I don’t get it, Twitter DMs are supposed to be private. Should I sue Twitter for ruining my career?

A.W. New York


Dear Mr. W,

I realize it’s a sad state of affairs when you can’t trust that Twitter DMs remain private but unfortunately you get what you pay for. And what exactly have you paid for Twitter?

I rest my case.

It’s always wise to keep in mind when you’re using social networking platforms, you are playing in someone else’s sandbox. Which means their rules apply. And since your financial investment in these social networking platforms is roughly zero, you really don’t have much of a leg to stand on when things go awry.

And, it bears repeating that nothing on those social networking platforms should be considered private. Even direct messages or direct emails. If it’s not something you would mind your mother, your children, your boss, your clients, etc. seeing, you probably shouldn’t be stating it on any of those platforms.


Dear Ms. Social Networking Manners,

I work for a professional sports team and I was very upset about a trade they made. So I went on my Facebook account and posted that my sports team sucked. The next day I was fired. That wasn’t fair, was it?

Unemployed and unhappy sports fan, Pennsylvania


Dear Unemployed,

Alas, my mailbag is full of stories like yours. From the “Fatty Cisco Paycheck” debacle to the consultant who dissed the headquarters of his client’s hometown, there seems to be no end to people who post seemingly innocuous Tweets and Facebook updates only to be fired or forced to resign.

As stated above, if you’re not comfortable with the world reading whatever you posted, then you probably shouldn’t post it. And if you ARE caught, then all you need to do is blame the Mad Twitter Hacker.

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