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Navigating Social Media Mishaps

Whether it was sending a not-so-nice email to half the student population or a friend posting some pictures from a wild party, we have all experienced some type of social media blunder. Chances are, it won’t be the last. Since these mistakes are inevitable, what is the best way to handle an awkward situation without making it worse? How can we avoid them altogether?

Dr. Gary Wilcox, a professor in the College of Communication’s Department of Advertising, offers some words of wisdom.

Wilcox believes that the biggest mistake college students make in engaging in social media is “not realizing that anything that is posted is open for everyone to see.” For example, posting your location, he notes, is like sending an invitation to stalkers, thieves, etc. Regardless of the privacy settings, it is still on the World Wide Web.
While the negative implications can be daunting, there are ways to use social media as a tool, other than keeping in touch with friends. Wilcox advises to use social media to reach out to people you admire in your career field.

“You can find online blogs in your field who are writing cutting edge. Follow, retweet, and post on Facebook,” Wilcox said. “Hold conversations with people you admire via social media.”

“We’re in the age of instantaneous transfer of information,” Wilcox said. “This can be positive and negative. Positive in that we get information we need faster, but negative in that mistakes can be largely publicized.”

General Rules:
• Anything that you write can be seen by anyone.
• Expect it to be picked up by someone who you would not want to see it.
• If you don’t know someone, don’t let them into your inner circle.
• Count to 10 before sending. Take time to respond.
• Try to treat it as face-to-face interaction.
• Don’t drink and tweet.

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