What is it about social media that brings out the worst in people? That crude joke about your accounting supervisor or the doctored picture of the CEO at a party? They might seem funny at the time, but it's easy to forget how social media posts can live in infamy forever and become part of an eternal archive. Here are the biggest offenders in "Social Media's Hall of Shame" for those who work in an office.
1. Complaining about a specific person
Save that @ symbol for requests, promotional efforts, or an acclamation. Don't call someone out in public; at least do it privately and, preferably, in the real world.
2. Posting a picture without permission
Of course, there is outright photo theft and not including proper credit for an image. That's obviously wrong. Before you post a picture of a business associate at a party or in an awkward pose, get permission first.
3. Tagging someone in an embarrassing photo
Facebook lets you approve tagging before it appears on your feed, but many people forget to enable that feature. Tagging an embarrassing photo is like pinning a "kick me" sign to someone at a party.
4. Writing a negative post about a non-public figure
Have something to say about a celebrity? That's fine--celebrities are (mostly) fair game in social media posts, and they'll never see it anyway. Are you writing up a scathing article about a business associate who sits in the next building over? That can get you into serious trouble.
5. Repeatedly sending a Direct Message
I've mentioned before how e-mailing someone over and over again is a form of e-mail abuse. So is sending the same DM. It's just as annoying and rude, just in a different format.
6. Making any sexual references
Do you think that sexual joke a coworker told you over coffee is funny? It's tempting to post it on LinkedIn for everyone to see. Don't do it. Remember that you are in a public forum, and it's easy to misconstrue a crude joke.
7. Racial slurs
Social media is a wonderful place to share your opinions, and it's even OK to get political or even controversial at times. Any racial slur is 100% wrong, whether it is in person at the office or in a forum like Facebook or Twitter.
8. Doctoring a photo
OK, it was funny in middle school, but doctoring a photo and posting it on social media is not a good idea in business circles. Once again, there's no way to know if the person you are "doctoring" will think those bunny ears are funny or insulting. And, there's no way to control how it is forwarded.
9. Death threats
It's amazing how often this happens. It has happened to me. Keep in mind that it's illegal to make serious, repeated threats to hurt someone in an online forum.
10. Changing the meaning of a tweet when you retweet it
This one might seem harmless, but it's one that can cause people stress. Change a retweet to stay within 140-characters, sure, but don't change the meaning.
11. Posting a private comment made in person
If a co-worker tells you something about the boss or related to some private plans in the company, keep it to yourself. Posting about it on social media is a betrayal of confidence.
12. Representing an original photo as your own
Apart from the legal and ethical issues, it's all too easy to post a photo on social media as though its your own. Kids do it on Tumblr, sure. Make sure you let people know who took the photo and give proper credit. Or at least avoid claiming you are the original photographer.
There's a reason the term "troll" came into existence. When someone comments rudely on everything you do on social media, that's harassment.
That's right--it's a form of social cruelty, depending on who is reading your post and the context in which you are posting. The best approach? Just save the profanity for an environment where it is not held in perpetuity for any reader to see years from now.
15. Hiring or firing an employee
Wait, haven't we learned a lesson from teenagers who break up with their significant other by sending a public tweet or a Facebook post? Do the duty in private and in person.
16. Reward one employee and not the others
Did you decide to reward an employee monetarily or with a gift card by tweeting it out to the masses? Be careful, because every person who didn't get the reward can find out if you post it online.
17. Apologizing to a specific person
This one just looks lame. Apologies are fine when they are in person or even by email or Direct Message. As a public post, it looks like a cop-out and that you didn't take the time to do it in person.
18. Repeating the exact same email inquiry on social media
Maybe this is not exactly "cruel" but it is annoying. If you send an email and then copy-and-paste the same message as a tweet or a Facebook message, your recipient might notice. He or she might ignore the request even more.
19. Posting salary amounts for your staff
There are many ways to communicate with employees about their salary or even the salary range for their job. Doing so on social media is not one of them.
20. Posting that someone is going on vacation or a business trip
It might seem helpful, but you are letting criminals know when to rob that person's house. Let the employee control their own destiny.
When you post one comment in disagreement, it's voicing your opinion. When you post a rebuttal, it looks like you are defending yourself. When you argue back and forth, everyone thinks you are using up precious bandwidth. Best to leave it to private communications.
22. Ad hominem attacks
Calling someone a doofus or a putz has no place in social media. For one thing, it's attacking the person not the viewpoint. Usually, it makes you look bad, and there's usually no way to explain yourself further.
23. Posting the exact same message on all social media channels
OK, I'm guilty of this one but I'm trying to improve. What does it mean? Those who follow you on multiple social channels have to see the same message. Customize for that particular forum.
24. Linking to inappropriate or crude content
Be careful, because the person clicking might not have any idea what is on the other end of the link. You'll be associated with the crude content.
It's not a great way to build up your reputation, and it creates confusion with those following what you say. Besides, they will find out the truth eventually.
What about e-mail? See my previous story about acts of e-mail cruelty.