Public and Private Online Messages

When to post an online comment publicly and when to post one privately should always be carefully deliberated. If there is any doubt how your comment will be received or if it could reflect negatively on you, don’t post it. There seems to be no shortage of public comments to inspire another blog reminding those to think before they post just as you should think before you speak. The difference is your oral comment will be a brief moment in time directed at a few rather than a permanent post in cyberspace for an audience of millions of people.

So often I see comments which are unfounded, rude, offensive or simply inappropriate. Surely this kind of behaviour and lack of professionalism is not generated from a conscious intent or purpose. Many will see a negative comment and immediately give the author a superstitious excuse such as, “they must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed”. We simply don’t want to accept the spread of ill will as intentional.

In fact, I see so many inappropriate comments that I’ve decided it can’t possibly be a desire to publicly humiliate yourself or establish a negative personal brand but rather a lack of knowledge in the use of the various communication tools available. Take note of the following to ensure there is no mistake when you make a decision to post a private or a public online message:

When responding to an email the reply tab at the top allows you to Reply to Sender or Reply to All; choose wisely.

Text messaging from most phones allows for multiple recipients and forwarding.

If you’re using Twitter, What’s happening, retweets and @mentions are public. To send a private message select the recipient and choose the small envelope to the right.

Facebook allows you to post on your own wall and on a friends wall as well as commenting on other comments, tagging, and so much more which is all public however, you are able to select Privacy Settings from the drop down box under Account to allow friends of friends or just friends or a custom setting to sensor who will see your information. If you want to send a private message, select the recipient and then select Message at the top right. Keep in mind that although messages can be shared between two people the option is available to add people to the conversation in which case they will be able to see all the messages in the stream. There is also the option to forward any or all the messages to another party.

Linkedin is pretty consistent with many others with the option to compose a private message which can be sent to an established connection, to invite a new connection or initiate an introduction to connect. Privacy settings are available by selecting Settings from the drop down box under your name at the top right. Depending on the settings you choose, most of your activity will be public and posting an update will be shared with your connections.

Choose your settings carefully and if you decide your comments deserve public attention be sure the content will be suitable for many years to come!

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