Digital Spring Cleaning: 5 ways to tidy-up your social media life

ImageThere is a belief that a cluttered home reflects a cluttered state of mind, and disorganization in one’s life. Removing the junk from your surroundings and organizing your things can have a profound effect on your state of being. Some see this belief as part of the “Law of Attraction”, others base it on principles of Feng Shui. Either way, I believe these principles hold true for both the real and digital world. Spring cleaning is an annual practice through which we can not only de-clutter and reorganize our homes, but also clear the junk out of our social media life in order to bring more positive energy into our existence.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that 67% of online adults in the United States use social networking sites. Moreover, 25% of the total time that Americans spend surfing the internet is focused in social networking and blogs, according to Neilsen. For adults aged 18 – 65+ who are actively go online, 67% are on Facebook, 20% have Twitter accounts, and 16% use LinkedIn. Living life online as an adult includes managing social networks, collecting friends and contacts, uploading photos, videos, and resumes, and actively updating status. As in the real world, a person’s social media life is prone disorganization and messiness if not periodically, and properly, maintained. I recommend an annual Spring Cleaning ritual to ensure that your social media life remains tidy and efficient, in order to reduce stress and bring more Zen into your life. As with spring cleaning for the home, I believe there are five principles that apply when cleaning the clutter from your social media life.

Rosie the Robot Maid from the Jetsons

Rosie the Robot Maid from the Jetsons

  1. Update your look: Stop posting that picture of you taken 15 years ago on LinkedIn or Facebook. Either the recruiter won’t recognize you when you go for that job interview, or the girl that you’ve been flirting with on Facebook will run from you thinking that you’re a stranger, if you attempt to meet her in person (this actually happened to a friend of mine, LOL). Invest money in getting new headshots to post to your online profiles. Also, take time to review and update your resume on your professional profiles to make sure that it reflects all of your recent accomplishments. You should actively update your professional profiles with changes in education or job status, because its easy to forget. Recruiters may be overlooking you for some great job opportunities because your job information is out of date.
  2. Get rid of things that you’ve out grown, and no longer fit: Culling my friends and contact lists is an essential house keeping activity that I perform at least once a year. Overtime you randomly add people that you barely know or with whom you no longer communicate to your social media profiles. Many of these people should no longer have access to your personal status, contact lists and/or photos. Just like that old pair of jeans from high school or college, in life, we often out grow friendships. Delete these people from your contact lists. Stop hoarding and collecting friends (who aren’t really your friends) in your social media life. You don’t really really have 1000+ friends (or even 500+). Its nothing personal, you’re just reducing the clutter.
  3. Sort and organize your Professional vs. nonprofessional items: Sort activities and people in your digital life according to their professional status in your life. Remember to maintain a professional boundary with co-workers and colleagues. Some people belong on your Google+, Twitter or Facebook friends list, others you may want to limit to LinkedIn. Not everyone who is an active participant in your life should have access to every thought, opinion or swimsuit photo that you have.
  4. Get extra storage for your all of your stuff: Invest in a Dropbox, Google Storage, Flickr or SnapFish account. Its worth it the money and set-up time. It offers a great way to backup files and data, in case your personal computer is stolen or the hard drive fails. It also provides a more secure and private method, compared to Facebook and Google+ for storing photos and videos.
  5. Make sure your that your belongings are protected: In the digital world, protecting your belongings means insuring that your privacy setting are turned on and up-to-date. Avoid over-sharing. Limit your status, family photos and personal thoughts to only those with whom you trust enough to share these details. Remove old pictures and/or change their visibility to people on your “Contacts List” who don’t need to see them.
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Why unlawful social media behavior can get you sued

Social Media Lawsuit - Carla FranklinToday, more than 50% of Americans have at least one active social media account.  Facebook is the world’s largest social media platform with over 1 Billion active users each month.  Twitter continues to grow as an important digital information outlet with over 140 million active users posting 340 million Tweets a day.  Tumblr, Pintrest, Group Me, YouTube, LinkedIn and Word Press are other key players in the untamed Wild West of human digital life.  So it comes as no surprise that there are outlaws in the online Wild West, committing crime and using social platforms with malicious intent.  There always are criminals in every new frontier who prey on victims.  Luckily, the use of social media evidence is becoming a recognized standard in courtrooms nationwide.

Social Media Finger Print - Carla FranklinSocial media evidence is increasingly being used to win verdicts on behalf of Plaintiffs in both civil and criminal suits.  This trend demonstrates a positive, albeit slow, progression by the judicial system to recognize relevance that social media plays not only in everyday life, but also in criminal and civil offenses across the United States.   When ever a new technology emerges for providing evidence of criminal behavior, there is a “lagging effect” on the side of law enforcement and the court system to understand and recoginze its validity.  This was true of DNA evidence, which first emerged as a solid legal tool  in the 1980s, but took 10+ years to become a recognized standard by police and the courts.

As an anti-cyber abuse advocate, and a survivor of cyberharassment, I’ve seen first hand how law enforcement, attorneys and judges struggle with social media evidence in cases of harassment, stalking, defamation and invasion of privacy.  Arguments arise regarding First Amendment and Privacy rights.  Courts have had discomfort dealing with postings, and their impact on case law.  How does one distinguish between as satire, or the right to comment on “public figures“, vs. defamation in the digital world?   In the past, the judiciary often minimized the damage of online harassment and defamation online.  Thankfully this is changing.  The growing use of digital media as a primary platform for information and communication make crimes like cyberbullying, cyberharassment, online defamation and revenge porn even more damaging than those committed offline.  My philosophy is that if it’s illegal for an individual to engage in certain illegal behavior in person, by mail or over the phone, then he/sh should NOT be allowed to do it online…where the audience is larger, the rate of “misinformation dissemination” is faster, and it is harder to undo bad behavior.  Nationwide, judges, DAs and police are starting to adopt the same philosophy.

A recent article entitled, “Authentication and Access for Social Media Evidence“, written by lawyers from the firm of Jenner and Block, outlines the two main criteria that social media evidence must meet to be admissible in court:

  1. It must meet basic standards of Authentication.  This means, the user account must tie back to a specific user based on the “preponderance of evidence” in civil cases, or “beyond a reasonable doubt” in criminal cases.
  2. Accessibility. It must be stored and be accessible via typical methods of discovery.  This means that if I subpoena Facebook for information on an alleged online stalker, the company’s legal or security team  should be able to retrieve and provide me with an official record of the activity.

The revolution will not be televised, but it may occur via social media…

The revolution will not be televised, but it may occur via social media...

Gil Scott Heron

Today’s social movements seem to always start via the internet.  Modern day revolutions are digital revolutions. Nowadays revolutionary movements seem to only gain traction through social media, which feeds the social transformation like dry brush near a smoldering camp fire.  One random spark reaching the right network at the right time creates an inferno.  Would the world know, or care about Joseph Kony without social media? Where would the marriage equality movement be without the NOH8 and related campaigns? Anytime I see a social idea grow from a fledgling spark into a full-fledged digital movement that takes on a life of it’s own in the real world, I think of  Gil Scott Heron’s critically acclaimed poem, The Revolution will not be Televised, which starts out:

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised….

Its true you know… the revolution will NOT be televised.  Television distracts and confuses.  It makes you mistake “fair and balanced” one-sided opinion for news, buy into reality drama and fools us into believing that 24-hour headline news that only focused on 2-3 major stories in a day provides us with a global view of the world. Like a drug that makes you feel like you’ve floated outside of your body, reached nirvana and have unlocked the secrets of the universe, TV provides and escape from reality, that fools and consumes the mind.  Admittedly, my guilty pleasure is reality TV. I only watch occasionally, like going to McDonald’s or eating chips, reality TV is my brain’s fast food. It holds no nutritional or substantive value other than escape from reality, but I’m do it like most other people.  Social media, however, provides an opportunity for me to plug back in, on my terms.  I especially love the social media movements…the digital revolutions.

Discussion on Black Twitter activism at SXSW

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Amazing panel on the phenomena of “Black Tweeting” at the South by Southwest interactive SXSWi festival today. So honored to have heard Prof. Mark Anthony Neal speak on how Twitter revolutionized activism for black people in the modern world. However, with “the revolution”comes “the ratchet”…and so continues the evolution of technology. How do we find balance in the use/ misused of new technology? The debate continues.