In the past week, Republican Anthony Weiner has taught the world some very valuable lessons. Last Friday a lewd photo was sent via his twitter feed to a college student in Seattle. The photo managed to stir up some controversy as Weiner publicly denied posting it, stating that his accounts had been hacked and he was in the process of hiring a lawyer to investigate. At one point, when asked by multiple reporters if the man in the photo was him, he responded saying he wasn’t sure. Throughout this media frenzy, many people began to doubt his sincerity as he dodged questions and denied all claims with a straight face.
Yesterday, during a public press conference, Weiner admitted to sending the photo and confirmed that the man in the photo was him. The congressman said, “Last Friday night I tweeted a photograph of myself that I intended to send as a direct message as part of a joke to a woman in Seattle. Once I realized I had posted to Twitter, I panicked, I took it down and said I had been hacked. I then continued to stick to that story which was a hugely regrettable mistake.”
Surprisingly enough, this is a very common mistake on Twitter. As you may remember, other high profile organizations have been embarrassed by Twitter mistakes before. Earlier this year, a Chrysler employee was terminated after dropping the f-bomb on the automaker’s Twitter account, and a Red Cross social media specialist tweeted drunk on the organization’s behalf after a HootSuite slip up.
In honor of these brand-abolishing mistakes, we’ve put together a list of the top five tips to avoid a social media scandal. After all, a wise man named George Santayana once said, “Those who can not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
1) Remember that everything you post online is public whether you set it as “private” or not.
2) The only sure-fire way to ensure that your information, photos etc stay private, is to avoid posting them online.
3) If you know you’ll be out on the town and there’s a possibility that you could use your device while intoxicated, leave it at home. It’s too easy to lose control of inhibitions and internal censors when your judgement is impaired.
4) Always think before you post. No amount of security can protect you from your own thoughts. If you wouldn’t say this in front of a customer, you shouldn’t be tweeting it.
5) If you slip up and make a mistake, admit it, apologize and move on. Lying to cover up an issue just delays the inevitable.