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The do's and don'ts of social media

By Pauleen Le, ple@wkbt.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 12:14:39 PM CST
Updated On: Oct 26 2013 07:32:33 PM CDT
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

With social media sites like Facebook and Twitter more popular than ever, it can be challenging to know what's appropriate to post.

Just this week a White House aide was fired and a Minnesota athlete suspended from sports because of things they posted online. So what should or shouldn't we post?

Social media is a great tool for keeping in touch and networking, but experts said it's only as good as it is bad and there isn't an easy answer to what's appropriate to post.

The do’s and don’ts of posting to social media are a bit grey.

“I think that's up to you,” said George Weimer of Menomonie.

“I just try and avoid things that employers might see in the future,” said Elizabeth Lueth of Abbotsford.

“I try to keep in mind, ‘What would your mother be OK with seeing online?’” said Francis Holicky of West Salem.

Pamela Morris, assistant professor of communications at UW-La Crosse said there's two ways of looking at it.

“Legally, there isn't anything legally that tells us what you can and cannot post, and ethics is of course, is a personal decision,” said Morris.

When it comes to the case of the White House aide who was fired for taking jabs at the Obama administration under an alias twitter account, Morris said it wasn't so much a legal issue.

“Certainly, it was a bad decision,” said Morris. “That person has admitted that it was a bad decision, however, he was not representing himself or his organization. That's when it starts to become an ethical issue."

Social media also presents a challenge to educators.

A Minnesota athlete is fighting his suspension from sports over a tweet he sent about "drilling” his teammates.

He said it was about tackling opponents, but school officials said it was a threat.

Morris said there isn't an easy right or wrong answer to this either.

“What can and can't our schools do in order to protect our students as oppose to letting them freely speak about things -- that's a very tricky area,” said Morris.

So what can we do to protect ourselves? Morris says take extra time to think before you post.

“Is this ethically professional to do this? Even if it's not under my name, saying something about my organization or my employer would frown upon, you really have to start to think about that,” said Morris.

Morris also suggests having someone "cyber-vet" you to see what they can find out about you by searching the internet and what they can and cannot see on your social media accounts.

She said it's also good to keep in mind that while things can be deleted, the information never truly disappears from the Internet. There are ways go getting it back.

The case of the Minnesota teen suspended from sports over his twitter post is still pending in court.

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