When it comes to social media, you’re often left in a no man’s land. What you post has the ability to cause untold offense on a global scale and it can seriously damage your personal online reputation. How can you manage your social media profiles so that you don’t cause offence?
The idea of offense is relative; what you may see as benign, as a joke, someone halfway across the world may see as offensive. This is because we don’t all live by the same societal standards; cultural differences mean that different norms govern the societies of the world.
This poses a particular problem when it comes to social media. The pervasiveness of the platform; its ability to be accessed anywhere in the world, as well as the authority Google often attributes to social media sites, means that if used irresponsibly, not only has it the potential to cause offence, but that offence goes global.
Worst Case Scenario
The story of Roya Saberi Negad Nobakht, 47, from Stockport, who was charged with “insulting Islamic sanctities” on a visit to Iran, shows how serious this problem can get. Nobakht was imprisoned in Iran for five months. The crime with which she was charged carries a maximum sentence of death. So why was Nobakht locked up? According to news sources, she posted ‘derogatory comments’ about the Iranian government on her Facebook profile.
When she flew over to Iran in October to visit family members, she was arrested by authorities and imprisoned. This is a classic case of thoughtless use of social media. Considering that she had family in the Islamic Republic, she should have been well aware of its totalitarian nature, as well as the moral standards which govern every level of its society. Posting derogatory comments on Facebook, a popular medium even in the repressive environment of Iran was bound to flag her up as a danger to authorities in the Islamic Republic.
Think Before You Post
Of course, this is an extreme example, but the principle stands. Post something on your social media profile and you never know who could see it and who could find it offensive. Once that person has seen it, the damage has been done to your online reputation. And the issue is not exclusive to individuals.
Companies and brands are as much at risk as individuals. As a corporation expands internationally, it encounters standards of societal norms that differ than the ones in the market it is used to. The only way to ensure success in such a market is to understand the culture you are practicing in and adjust accordingly. This is the best way to ensure that your social media posts don’t cause damage to your online reputation. Use your common sense and think; who is going to see this post? Could it have future ramifications for my online reputation? Always think before you post.
Find out more about online reputation management – contact Simon Wadsworth on email: [email protected] or phone: +44 (0) 203 542 8689.