Social media is a way to build a rich network full of friends, family and professionals like you. Beware of how you use this format, though.

Social media is a way to build a separate community, finding new acquaintances all over the globe who share similar interests as you. It is also a way to over share and have information you thought safe used against you. When you first begin using social media forums, from Twitter to Facebook to Pinterest, you may be unaware of the scope and width of reach the forum has. Until you fully understand these things, make sure you are cautious about what and how you share.

Post Pictures You Are Not Willing to Show to the Entire Universe

Thanks to hackers and massive storage quantities available through social media platforms, deleting something does not mean it is gone forever. Examples of photos you may not want to post range from your last big party where you got a little too inebriated to the precious pictures of your infant when they were in their birthday suit. When you post photos to the giant social media platforms keep in mind that they will be visible to at least a few dozen, or more than a few thousand other people and you cannot truly know the motives of every one of them. If you are considering going back and deleting photos from your profiles now that you have thought twice about them, check in the help platform of each specific social media site to make sure you are deleting the photos as thoroughly as possible.

Airing Your Dirty Laundry

Family drama, marriage challenges, and mental health topics are all areas where it is wise to keep your issues to yourself. If you need to reach out for support from friends or family members, do so in a more private format like through emails or phone calls. Once you post about how much your spouse angered you that day, be ready for social media friends to respond and not always be on your side of the issue. Remember, many issues that upset you today will not be nearly as big of a deal tomorrow. A good rule of thumb for social media is to try to keep at least three out of every four posts or comments positive and thoughtful. If you keep your posts primarily positive in nature, friends you have never met, or have not seen in decades will not get the wrong idea and start picturing you as someone vastly different from the one they remember.

Talking Politics

Discussing politics is safest either done when you know that you are surrounded by those who are on the same side of the issue as you, or by people you are confident can stay respectful of the issue. In social media forums, it is nearly impossible to know this. If you choose to discuss politics in these forums, whether you link to videos or comics or post about your favored candidate, be ready for some angry words to in response. Also, be respectful if you talk politics both online and in public. Using derogatory terms, or even saying something as simple as a candidate or law “sucks” or is “stupid” can be considered offensive and inappropriate, especially around children.

Over Sharing About Your Job

Work relationships are like little families because you have a set group of people who may or may not get along well all working together. You are forced into these work relationships and do not usually get to choose who you are surrounded with meaning your days may be less than comfortable. Keep in mind that in many communities you may not know that the friend you met at the bar three years ago whom you are still in contact with through social media is actually the stepsister of your co-worker. If you choose to vent about that co-worker in a public forum like social media sites, you are opening that comment up to be seen by people you may not expect. Even subtle comments you think are harmless can be dissected and misunderstood by others through social media. It can also come back to haunt you when it is time to find a new job, or if you are under review at work because most of these comments can be easily found online and shine a negative light on you.

Talking About Issues You Don’t Truly Want Input On

You may need to vent about everyday challenges, from your diet and exercise routine, to parenting issues. Understand that when you use social media as a platform to do this, you are opening up your issues to comments from a huge range of people. These people may not agree with your choices and make it known, or they may try to fix something you feel is not broken in your personal life. Making comments about everyday things like bullies at your child’s school, what you are feeding your children, even plans for a quiet weekend lounging on the couch, can be misunderstood and viewed as a reason to question how you are living your life. Even if you think each one of the friends you have through social media will be respectful of the fact that you get to run your own personal life, it is hard to guarantee that. If you discover someone like this is one of your contacts through social media sites, it may be time to find out how to block them from your posts and information and separate yourself from this person.

Over Exuberant Celebrations

If your sports team just won the big game, being too excited and using derogatory words for the other team can be considered offensive to those loyal to the opposing team. Celebrating wins is great, but celebrating them by calling the other team stupid or saying that they have no skills, is rude and inappropriate. If you have friends all over the country, or those you know are fans of other teams, be respectful in your celebrations. Take your cues from the way the winning team presents themselves during the post-game interviews, typically they are respectful and humble though happy to have won.