Social Media Lessons Learned from Anthony Weiner

If you’ve been following the news at all you should have heard about New York Congressman Anthony Weiner’s “sexting” scandal. The details of the scandal can be found easily on other sites so we won’t get into them, but Weiner has admitted (after initial hesitation) to engaging in inappropriate contact with six women over the course of three years through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. While this certainly isn’t the first “oops” moment of social media and won’t be the last, it serves as another reminder of the power of social media and how it influences your reputation.

Ten years ago, this wouldn’t have happened. Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook have made it easy to find and communicate with people. Overall, these tools have opened many doors and have had a positive impact on many users. However, as Anthony Weiner has demonstrated, they can also ruin your career (or relationships, or reputation, or life in general). Of course, it’s not Facebook or Twitter that ruined his career. He ruined it for himself. Facebook and Twitter were merely the outlets that he used to do so. What can be learned from his mistakes?

For starters, be careful about everything that you do or say on social media and online in general. There are no secrets online. Everything comes out eventually, no matter how hard you try to conceal something. This may seem obvious, but far too many people seem to have forgotten how social media works. Content spreads like wildfire and if you post something dumb, it will be shared. A lot. Sure, you might be able to delete a post or comment, but chances are it’s too late and it has already been archived somewhere on the web. Nothing can ever really “disappear”.

This doesn’t only apply to politicians or CEO’s, either. Every company and every individual with a social media presence has something to lose, which means that it’s important to play it safe. Even the smallest mistake can have a detrimental effect on a personal or corporate brand. This doesn’t mean that you should shy away from social media. It just means to be smart when using it.

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