It's not hard to fall victim to the consequences of tweeting or posting without thinking.
There are scores of examples of tweeters who have gotten into trouble over it, from actor Alec Baldwin to a Utah local news employee who was forced to quit after tweeting about the "repressed sexual energy" of Mormons.
Here are a few tips to consider while tweeting or posting on a social network. They will help reduce the chances you will drown in guilt and regret later:
-- Think before you tweet. That's obvious, right? But consider putting a safety measure in place -- like stopping to think for five to 10 seconds -- before pressing the "send" button and beaming that tweet or post out into the virtual world forever. It's easy to blurt out a message to everyone. It's more difficult making sure it's appropriate for everyone.
-- Be professional. If you have two separate Twitter or Facebook accounts, one for business and one personal, then be absolutely certain which one you're posting from.
And when you're posting or tweeting from your business account, keep it professional and positive.
-- Don't get personal. As in try not to insult or hate on others in your tweets and posts. The Internet is flooded with negativity, but the worst comments are ones where people personally degrade others. The Onion, a satirical publication, recently attempted to make a joke about people fawning over adorable 9-year-old actress Quvenzhane Wallis and did so with a vicious insult, which stirred widespread condemnation. Name-calling, in other words, never works.
-- It's permanent. Never think that whatever you tweet or post will simply disappear if you delete it later. It could easily be retweeted or reposted the instant you send it out, and end up on the other side of the world in minutes. In general, what goes up on the Internet, stays on the Internet.
-- Pictures. Be careful when tweeting or posting pictures if they are photos with friends in them. You may think it's funny to tweet a picture of your buddy doubled over after a night of heavy drinking, but he may not, nor would his employer. If the picture is questionable, make sure to get permission from your friend before posting it.