Thursday, March 1, 2012

5 Key Points of Social Media Etiquette

An article in the Huffington Post the other day brought up five points that people need to understand as we enter this new world of social media. Like any other culture, social media has rules of etiquette and ethics; in fact, they are even more important when a transgression is observable not just by a few people physically present, but potentially by millions. In this light, here are five things to think about before posting:

"1) In social media, there is no difference between public and private."
It's like the six degrees of separation, only on the Internet it's usually more like one or two degrees - everything is easier to track down. Even if you have something "private," so that only certain people can see it, you're probably sharing with a wider circle than you realize.

"2) Just because you can post something doesn't mean you should."
This should be obvious. Also known as, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

"3) Your online and offline selves might not be identical, but they're joined at the hip."
Again, I can't emphasize enough that nothing is as private as you think it is. You may be posting anonymously, or under a pseudonym, but that doesn't mean you won't ever be connected with your online self.

"4) Will what I post cause harm to others?"
Posting something online doesn't somehow make it less personal, or less hurtful. Think before you speak.

"5) Finally, call it the Social Media Golden Rule: post about others as you would have them post about you."

I'm sure you've noticed something here - these are basic rules for behavior in real life as well. The difference is mostly in how severe the potential consequences are, both for the original poster and those who see their message. So please, remember - don't be a troll, don't feed the trolls, and who you are online can have real impact on your life offline.

Bonus! Here's a video of the BBC tracking down a troll in real life, to ask him why.

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