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Reputation Crisis Prevention – Managing Your Social Media Privacy Settings


Hopefully it hasn’t happened to you – an embarrassing or inappropriate private message somehow ends up visible to everybody on social media. Social media is essential for building a reputation online but it’s scary. It just takes one social media gaffe to wreck that reputation you worked so hard to build. Just ask any one of the major corporations that have screwed up on social media.

A good way to ensure that this doesn’t happen is to manage your privacy settings. Each social media site has privacy settings that allow you to control who sees your content and what content you share.

Before we get into specifics, I want to offer one word of advice – It’s a good idea to just assume that everything you do on social media could potentially go public. You can control your privacy, but if you stick with this guideline, you’ll never have to worry about it. Plus, the data for all of your private messages and other activity is out there somewhere. Socialize with caution!


People gripe about Facebook’s privacy settings because they’re complex and they’re always changing. But actually, Facebook has some of the most comprehensive and controllable settings. You can decide who can see your profile. Each friend request has to be approved by you. You can also decide who sees which of your updates.

The first thing to do is to review your Timeline. The Timeline shows all content you post and all content that’s tagged with you. When people click on your profile, your Timeline is what they see. You can hide anything you want to on your Timeline. I recommend checking it daily to make sure there isn’t anything you don’t want seen.

Another way to protect yourself is to manage privacy settings so that when someone else tags you, it has to be approved by you. Someone can post a picture and put your name on it, and it’ll appear on your feed and Timeline.

All of your privacy settings can be managed under the tab ‘Privacy.’ You can manage the details of your profile, tagging and content, and how you come up in searches.


Twitter is public by nature. It’s meant to be an open network. Still, there are some things you can control. There’s a way to limit followers just like Facebook where they have to be approved by you, but most companies want to grow their followings on Twitter so they don’t use these settings.

What some companies do is set up groups. For example, you may have your main Twitter feed that’s completely open to the public. You can then create other groups where you share more inside information or personal information. Followers on these feeds may be colleagues, friends, or other members of your inner circle.


On Pinterest’s profile page, you’ll find privacy settings if you scroll down. There aren’t very many. There’s a switch that lets you hide your profile from search engines (although most online businesses wouldn’t want to do that because you want to be found).

It also lets you connect to Facebook and Twitter. When you do this, it automatically takes information from those profiles and imports it to Pinterest. It also has a setting that lets you automatically post Pinterest content on those sites.

But beware – if you connect to Facebook and Twitter, it’ll automatically add your friends and followers on those sites. It adds everything, so if there are things on your Facebook and Twitter you don’t want to share on Pinterest, don’t connect to them. Instead, share content manually.

Finally, I’d advise every marketing to create two profiles on each social media site – one for their business and one for their personal life – and don’t connect them. This keeps a boundary between your business and life.

Toby Russell

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