The final log off: Do you need a social media will?

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Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide advice only. Every legal matter is unique and you should consult with a legal professional in your area.

Unfortunately a few months ago, I lost a friend to leukemia who was in her twenties. She was an active participant on social media networks and during a discussion with friends someone asked “What do are they going to do with her Facebook account?” It is a great question that many of us in this digital age are going to be faced with. In fact, creating a “social media will” is now one of the government’s official personal finance recommendations, listed on USA.gov.

So ask yourself, what should happen to the content you have posted? Consider creating a statement of how you would like your online identity handled by appointing someone you trust as an online executor. The executor will be responsible for the maintenance and or closure of your email addresses, social media profiles and blogs after you are deceased.

Consider these steps to assist you with write a social media will.

  • Write down a list of all the websites where you have a profile, along with usernames and passwords.
  • State how you would like your profiles to be handled. You may want to completely cancel or leave it up for friends and family to visit. Some sites allow users to create a memorial profile where others can view your profile but cannot post anything new.
  • Identify and meet with your intended executor. Explain to them their role and share the list with them. (Google Drive may be a good resource as you can retain ownership of the document and share it with them. This way if your passwords are changed it can be easily updated.)

While my friend did not have a social media will her family chose to leave her profile up so that we could post photos and memories, and while I knew she was an awesome person now I can connect with the hundreds of people whose lives she touched and make new acquaintances.

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Socially Ahead, a strategic communications agency specializing in the creation of social /digital media strategies, online communications, training and web content production based in Washington, DC. Socially Ahead focuses on helping brands and individuals navigate social media and online space to build better connections.

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Is your reputation on the line because of social media?

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Benjamin Franklin once said ” It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it. ” Social media has become a part of our daily lives, in fact for some it has been their only form of communication/interaction.  I truly love connecting with individuals on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for personal and business reasons yet I cannot express enough to my cohorts that the social in social media is misleading.

Below are two examples of personal social media accounts that cost the individual their jobs!

Gilbert Gottfried – Fired from Aflac over offensive Twitter posts

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried was fired by employer Aflac, for whom he was a spokesperson, for making at least two jokes about the recent tragic events in Japan. Gottfried, whose voice served as that of the Aflac duck, isn’t known for either tact or good timing; he famously made a 9/11 joke just three weeks after 9/11 happened. And the comedian’s Twitter stream is replete with jokes that some might describe as tasteless or insensitive.

Read more here via Mashable http://mashable.com/2011/03/15/gilbert-gottfried-japan-twitter/

Dawnemarie Souza – Fired by American Medical Response for “online badmouthing”

Former medical technician Dawnemarie Souza was fired on December 1, 2010 for using vulgar language to criticize her boss on Facebook after he denied one of her requests. Several co-workers joined in on the thread, making similarly negative comments about the supervisor. Souza made these comments from her private account on her own time and on her own computer. Her case received national attention regarding employers social media policies. Her case was eventually settled with her former employer.

Read more here: http://money.cnn.com/2011/02/08/technology/facebook_firing_settlement/index.htm

These two individuals will now have a track record that will follow them for life and I would hate for something like this happening to you. So, I encourage you to THINK before you POST anything as  it estimated that more than 68 percent of employers do a Web search on job applicants as part of their hiring procedures. More than half of them admit to not bringing someone on board because of negative information they found online. Also do not post any negative information about your employer online unless you want to get fired – remember if you post it anywhere someone could see it. If your unhappy with your job then its time to move on not tweet about it!! As my mother would always say – “Don’t burn your bridges

So when was the last time you used GOOGLE to perform a search about you?  Well.. what are you waiting for…

If you need any assistance with social media please email me at sociallyahead@gmail.com

All the best,

Protecting yourself on Facebook

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Yesterday I was visiting with a client. While waiting,  I struck up a conversation with his assistant. Naturally we were discussing social media sites and she was telling me how she used Facebook  to find and keep in touch with  relatives and  friends.  I agreed with her that it was a great tool to connect with others. But then she told me I put my phone number and address on the sites so that they could contact me and send me information. I immediately advised her that while social networking sites have benefits they also have negatives and one of them is identity theft.

Below are three  recommendations for protecting yourself  against online identity theft on Facebook

Think carefully about who you allow to become your friend

Once you have accepted someone as your friend they will be able to access  information about you (including photographs) that you have marked as viewable by your friends. You can remove  them should you change your mind.

Show “limited friends” a cut-down version of your profile

You can choose to make people ‘limited friends’ who only have access to a cut-down version of your profile if you wish. This can be useful if you have cohorts  who you do not wish to give full friend status to, or feel uncomfortable sharing personal information with.

Disable options, then open them one by one

Think about how you want to use Facebook. If it’s only to keep in touch with friends and family  then maybe it’s better to turn off the bells and whistles. It makes a lot of sense to disable an option until you have decided you do want and need it, rather than start with everything accessible.