Privacy and Your Reputation on Social Media

Barred Owl 7391Copyright Shelagh DonnellyDon’t close your eyes to the matter of your privacy and reputation on social media.

This is the third in a series on use of social media, and today we’re looking at an element that holds some back from using it: concern over privacy, and capacity to control or filter who sees what. 

Here’s what some members of our panel, which also includes Karen Johnson, have to say about privacy. While considering privacy, some also touch on watchfulness of reputation – aka your personal brand.

Want, MatthewMatthew Want of Staines, England: Matthew mentioned in our first article that, depending on how your privacy settings, anyone could see your profile. He noted that social media sites are constantly changing their privacy settings and that, even if you have your account set to strict privacy, you should regularly check your privacy settings. Here’s more from Matthew.

It is possible that several people you don’t necessarily know are able to see photos and comments you post on Facebook, without you even knowing. Vickie Sokol Evans, who runs Red Cape Company, does an excellent presentation on social media privacy. There is a great video here by Vickie that explains how easily your private Facebook photos can end up on Twitter; see

Make sure you think before you post something online

This could be make or break for your job if you are not careful what you post online. As you can see from the above video, make sure you think before you post something online. You never know who may see it or where it may end up on the internet!

Schmidt, Julia - NorwayJulia Schmidt of Norway: I simply do not disclose information that is too much related to my role, my executives and company. Having this as a rule makes me feel secure. However, as an Evangelist Assistant, I do use Facebook, LinkedIn and Tweeter to promote my company’s products, seminars and news.

Do not disclose information too closely related to your role

I also avoid writing controversial comments, especially in open LinkedIn arenas. As EA to a CEO, I do care about how I am perceived by others.


Luoni, Michela

Michela Luoni of Busto Arsizio, near Milan, Italy: From time to time, I revise my Facebook privacy settings because they tend to change and become more complicated.

Safeguard your web reputation – but that has nothing to do with social media; it’s wisdom

With any social media, it’s most important for an Assistant to safeguard your web reputation. If you have XVZX as a client, it’s not savvy writing “XVZX sucks” or sharing content that lampoons XVZX. But that has nothing to do with social media. It’s wisdom.

Corcoran, JenniferJennifer Corcoran of London, England: When you initially create any social networking account, you need to invest some time in the privacy and security settings area. Going forward you ultimately have the control over who can view your various profiles.

Invest time in privacy and security settings

Re Twitter: When you set up your Twitter account, you have the default account setting of all of your tweets being public or you can protect them.  Public accounts and tweets are visible to anyone irrespective of whether or not they have a Twitter account themselves.  Private tweets must be manually approved and may be visible only to your approved Twitter followers.


Constance, Bianca - USABianca Constance of New York City, USA: While my profile is visible to anyone, I limit the amount of information that can be seen by non-connections – besides my headline and summary, only my current employment, my skills, certifications, recommendations and education.

Limit the amount of information that may be seen by non-connections, and be careful about whose invitations you accept

Now that my network of connections numbers well over 1,000, I try to be careful whose invitations I accept. Case in point, a second connection of a distant colleague asked to connect with me and I accepted. Within minutes of my accepting this individual’s connection request, I received an email that was wildly inappropriate. I politely responded that LinkedIn is not a dating website and I immediately severed my connection.

Diana - GermanyDiana of Berlin, Germany: On LinkedIn, I chose the option to share my contact details and personal information like my birthday or email address only with my direct contact list. No one from outside will see this before I agree to become a network contact with this specific person. I like this approach as I am very protective of my privacy. I try to avoid using my full name on the internet and generally provide only my first name. While the internet offers a lot of advantages, a lack of security and a general mistrust over certain systems give me a feeling that I want to share only specific information with my networks.

Select options thougtfully, and share only limited information with networks

The same applies for Facebook and Twitter, which I use mostly on a private level. I have only a bunch of friends I know of and trust on my contact list, and it’s wonderful to see how my friends are doing at the other end of the world. Facebook connects people and makes it easy to network and stay in touch, and I am a huge fan. I also like the fact that I can create specific friends groups such as “family members”, where I share more details and pictures.

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