This isn’t Vegas – What Happens Online…Stays Everywhere!

Let’s clear something up. There seems to be a misconception that blog posts, Facebook wall posts, and Tweets are “secret.” Contrary to what they say about Las Vegas, what happens on the Internet, does not just stay on the Internet. It doesn’t even always stay in one place!

Most of us hope that people will share our content online – it’s a way to help spread valuable information while also helping establish yourself and/or your company as an authority in a particular field. But you have to be careful about what you publish online in your name or your company’s name.

Let’s focus on the fact that what you publish online, whether it’s on your website, in a blog post, in a Tweet, in a Facebook photo or even a comment, has the potential to jump off-screen and into a courtroom if at all necessary and deemed ethical and legal for the case at hand. But this isn’t all; under some circumstances, search results that come up for your name and any content you’ve published online can easily be accessed by a potential employer, client, or even by a university reviewing your, or a loved one’s, application.

As an example of just how transparent social media content can be, according to a recent MSNBC article, the Maryland Department of Corrections has been asking job applicants during interviews to log into their Facebook accounts and allow the person interviewing to watch the applicant click through wall posts, photos, friends, etc. While many would argue that this is pretty extreme, a person doesn’t need your Facebook login to necessarily access information about you online; information you may not even realize shows up in search results. That’s why it’s important to be professional, even if lighthearted, with social media.

As a Wall Street Journal report emphasizes, a study evaluating the Facebook profiles of 56 college students with jobs showed a noteworthy connection for characteristics such as conscientiousness, agreeability, and intellectual curiosity with regard to job performance and Facebook profiles. However, there are possible legal issues of using social media to screen individuals applying for jobs, as discrimination lawsuits could surface in relation to religion, gender, and race.

Social media does wonders for an Internet marketing campaign, but it also has the power to negatively influence a person’s job, marriage, friendships, and even their civil, family law, or criminal case, if it comes down to it.

You may be wondering why this topic is being discussed on a blog that mostly addresses legal Internet marketing matters. While most attorneys are on top of their Internet reputation management, sometimes it’s more about what an attorney’s clients are doing online that could come back to haunt them. But then again, we can all use reminders about the obvious from time to time, right?

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