Social media jitters

Nick Augustine is a freelance writer, broadcaster, publicity and marketing strategist, and he teaches SEO and social media. Nick writes legal industry columns for Chicago Lawyer magazine regarding business and career development. Nick is an alumnus of Marquette University and The John Marshall Law School, where he is an active alumni board member. @NickAugustinePR, @APIFCharity and Augustine Legal PR.

Attendees of the ISBA Midwinter Meeting discussed social networking and concerns of security and propriety. There are many judges and attorneys who elect not to join peer communities on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Rules of professional conduct for lawyers are slowly catching up to common customs and standards in our business and social communities. Below are three steps concerned social network users should take to increase online safety.

While some are social network averse, others embrace the opportunity to engage in relationships with their peers and public audience. My uncle was a judge and he was very social and quite active in the community. Attending an event in person versus on a social network is just not that different, except that online there can be a record of a social network exchange.

Are judges and lawyers not supposed to engage the public? Do we really suggest a judge is unable to be a neutral and detached magistrate in court and be friends with the lawyers outside of court? Judges have been friends with lawyers and lay people since the beginning of the industry. There is another side of the story, however, the safety of professionals who might be the unfortunate target of wrongdoers.

There are three steps high profile professionals can take to protect their privacy and safety.

1. Mobile phone settings. Most smart phones will prompt users to ask if they want to share their location to improve performance or user experience. When your phone settings are set to share location, metadata can appear in pictures you take, on some photo sharing sites. If you make a record of your whereabouts, it is easier for nefarious people to locate you. It is worth your time to review privacy settings

2. Facebook settings. If you take the time to learn or ask someone to teach you Facebook privacy settings you can feel more secure about participating in social networking, even if only with family and very close friends. I know several high profile professionals and celebrities who play it safe by taking advantage of setting security. You can also set your “about” page to appear as your default, instead of the traditional timeline. It is a good practice to review your settings once a quarter to make sure site settings are secure. The “Subscribed” option is also a smart option for friend requests you wish not to accept. If you participate in this option, you can limit who can subscribe and see your updates without hearing from them on your wall. Here is a link to more info.

3. LinkedIn etiquette. There should be no reason to fear presence on LinkedIn if you adopt a LinkedIn policy. Since the inception of the site lawyers have asked, “Is it inappropriate to be linked to my opposing counsel?” Consider drafting a short disclaimer, you can prominently place in your profile summary that indicates your policies for being LinkedIn and how you manage your page.

While safety concerns are reasonable and appropriate for high profile professionals and elected officials, following stated and followed policy and security measures can allow even the most cautious social network users to participate in their communities online.


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