I have always shared the positive of social media, because I believe that it is there to educate, entertain and engage us. Yet, there is a downside to social media and that it can be used to degrade, harass and downright embarrass others. Too many people cross the line between private / public messages. Those private messages when shared in a public forum (your fans, friends and followers) could cause the other party ill-will and land the person who shared in legal hot water.

I’ve seen too many times when someone takes a private message and posts it to their social media stream in hopes of “outing” the other party. And yes, I’ve been a party to such retaliations. It’s not fun.

Someone had approached me with a question. So I answered it truthfully. Then 3 months passed and this person took my private chat message and tried to twist my words into something it wasn’t. They (and no I won’t name names…I don’t do that) thought they could discredit me by posting on my Facebook wall how they interpreted my private message.

I never charged them for answering their question and they were never a client. But something made them look at my post from 3 months earlier and it riled them up. Did they have a right to be angry? Maybe! Did I say anything in my private message to them that would incite such anger? No…although, everyone interprets messages differently.

And just like everyone…I’m human. I make mistakes and if those mistakes upset someone…I do apologize.

Unfortunately, my apology to this person fell on deaf ears and they just didn’t want to hear it.

As I spoke to a colleague about this situation who then reviewed the posts…it was not a matter of he said/they said…it was a matter of bad timing. Yes, this person was wronged by someone (not me) and took her negative feelings out on the first person she locked her radar onto…me.

This type of behavior happens everyday. And sadly social media has become the outlet of our negative behavior. It’s become acceptable to cast stones at another and try to humiliate them. Almost equates to public flogging…and those witnessing are your social media friends.

online reputationI believe this is a major reason why companies are fighting back and suing people over negative postings and why apartment complexes are asking tenants to sign non-disclosure agreements. They want to protect their reputation from people posting under the influence of emotions.

So before you go using a private message from someone to use against them in a social media fight…take a deep breath, calm down, either pick up the phone and call them or try to be as diplomatic on the chat as you can so as not to escalate the problem further. I find a simple phone call clears up most problems as they can hear your voice, and detect if you’re sincere or not.

Try to resolve your private matters in private before posting your grievance in a public forum. Taking your fight public can ruin both parties online reputation.

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Rob is affectionately known as “Mr. Sarcasm” to his friends - to everyone else he’s a Certified Digital Marketing Strategist, a Foremost Expert On Specialized SEO, a Best Selling Author, Podcaster, Speaker and Authority Broadcaster who can help amplify YOU to your audience.

Rob has authored, coauthored or produced over 40 books covering social media, search engine optimization, podcasting, copywriting, personal injury law, weight loss, military law, life lessons, scams, sarcasm, customer service and more. His book clients include lawyers, speakers, doctors, real estate professionals and more.

Rob is also host of The E-Heroes Interview Series available on Apple, Amazon, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify & many other podcast channels. Rob works inside corporations across the globe, helping companies generate new revenue and capture online business.

Rob is also available to share talks and give interviews. To learn more and to get started visit www.AnspachMedia.com or call Anspach Media at (412)267-7224 today.