The news headlines and stories, the pictures and video clips, the online postings and even the tweets of millions are to be found practically everywhere these days. Whether involving celebrities or politicos, human interest and tragedy, silly or strange or just plain stupid, information about us is available and may, as they say, go viral. There is no certainty of privacy just about anywhere and you are almost certain to know someone who has received unwanted publicity through social media and its being repeated by the mainstream media.
Knowing the omnipresence of devices that can capture practically anything we do should, one might think, encourage us to be more careful in what we actually do. Watching the TV news assures me that the threat of a viral presence on media does not deter most people who we see “caught on camera” along with the many more that don’t make it to your TV screen.
There is a special need for care and forethought by those of us who serve others by providing advice and counsel. In this business, reputation and appearance have some real meaning and need to be nurtured and protected so that we may function appropriately. This need goes beyond simply behaving ourselves so that we are not popping up on TV or the computer screen in unfavorable circumstances. It extends to what we say about ourselves – and others – on our websites, our postings, even our tweets. For example, in the investment advisory business, it is generally a very bad thing for an adviser to post or quote endorsements by clients since that form of self-promotion is a violation of the advertising rule.
Even worse might be disclosing personal information about a client or confidential information about a business or financial situation. Harm may be done when we are careless about what we “put out there” whether it is by a deliberate act on our part or simply being overheard and quoted (or misquoted) by someone who was not intended to be a part of the conversation.
In short, be very careful about what you are doing, saying, texting, posting and so on. It may be used in ways you did not intend or foresee and could lead to trouble for you and perhaps others.