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7 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Posting ANYTHING On Social Media

"Everything you post on social media impacts your personal brand. How do you want to be known?"—Lisa Horn

Life & Travel

If you've ever wondered about the goings on when it comes to social media activity, I've got a little bit of data that you might find interesting. As far as Facebook goes, on average, people log onto the platform about eight times a day. The topic of love drives the most responses (46 percent) and, if you're trying to create a brand, between 9-11pm(EST) is the best time to post stuff. When it comes to Instagram, 95 percent of its users are under the age of 35, a whopping 500 million individuals use Instagram stories on a daily basis and, if you use a handle with your post, there's a 56 percent chance that you'll get a lot more engagement. On Twitter, there are 500 million tweets that are sent every day, 12 percent of people use Twitter as their main news source and, if you post with an image, there's a 150 percent increased chance that what you said will get retweeted (if you use a hashtag, there's a 69 percent increase of you getting a RT too). Pinterest ain't nothin' to dismiss either. 50 percent of millennials use it quite a bit, they spend about 14 minutes every time that they do and, 87 percent of people who buy a product, do so because of something that they saw on the site.

What all of this boils down to is social media has the kind of impact and influence that packs a pretty powerful punch. That's why, it's really important that, whether you are using it for personal or professional reasons, you are careful with and intentional about what you say. Because, just like you can never really take back the words that you speak once you say them, you can never fully take back the words that you write on your social media platforms once you write them.

Which is why it's always a good idea to take a moment to ask yourself the following seven questions before logging onto your accounts every day.

1. Are You Aware That NOTHING Is Ever Really Deleted?

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Just recently, I changed my cell phone number. The reason why is because I have a landline and, honestly, I'm even picky about who gets those digits. But my cell phone is really more for the purpose of calling out while I'm out, so it's not uncommon for me to block my number when I hit someone up. Recently though, while catching up with an ex (per his request), even though I blocked my number while giving him a ring, when we accidentally got connected, he hit me back. When I asked him how he was able to do that, he said, "It's weird. Your number didn't show up when you called me, but it just did when I tried to call you back." Yeah, I changed my number the next day, but the reason why I'm sharing all of this is because it's a reminder that while you think technology is doing one thing, oftentimes, it's doing something else.

If you're someone who "posts off the cuff" or worse, has "trigger fingers" and, in your mind, you think that it's not a problem because you can simply delete what you said—yeeeeah…you might want to rethink that. With articles like "Facebook launches 'clear history' tool – but it won't delete anything", "Why Your Data Will Never Be Deleted" and "The story behind 'nothing ever gets deleted from the internet'" that are out in cyberspace to remind us that cookies, caches and screenshots make it pretty much impossible for data to be completely erased, it's important that, when it comes to whatever you share, you always approach your post like it is written in pen, not pencil.

2. Are You Cool with Your Boss (or Prospective Boss) Seeing It?

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We're living in some pretty interesting times; times when keeping—or getting—a job is more important than ever. That said, one thing that can cause you to get a pink slip or a "Don't call us, we'll call you" response from prospective employer is how you act on your social media accounts.

In fact, one article I read said that more than half of employers have taken a pass on a potential employee simply because of something that they saw on that individual's social media. Not only that but, 48 percent of employers do "check ins" on the people who work for them, via their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

I grew up in a house where, once I became a sophomore in high school, I was able to have a phone in my bedroom. Still, my mom was on some, "I'm paying for it, so I can pick it up at any time." (And she would.) It's called monitoring. Yes, your social media accounts are yours. But if you think that your employers aren't monitoring you too, you are sadly mistaken. Post wisely. It could cost you, very dearly, if you don't.

3. Are You About to Post Something That Is Truly Beneficial?

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Let me be clear. There are a lot of ways to benefit someone via what you post. The reason why I think it's important to make that distinction is because, I'm not saying that you should only post what you think others will like or agree with; no one really grows that way. All I'm saying is it's always a good idea to keep words like "helpful", "advantageous" and "constructive" in mind, whether you're sharing your opinion, an article, a resource or anything else.

Some folks on social media are nothing more than toxic gaslighters and drama starters. That helps absolutely no one. Meanwhile, some folks do nothing but pedestal themselves; I'm not really sure how that is advantageous for others either. But if what you're seeking to do is make people think, to share something that will inform or challenge them (in a good way) or point them to something that will help them to become their own best self—that is only to their benefit. That is something that is worth making the time to make a post about. Do it.

4. If You Just Got Triggered, Did You Take 5-10 Minutes to Process Your Response?

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Although I'm personally not on any social media platform, when I tiptoe out into Twitter World to see what folks are talking about, I'll tell you what—all I have to do is put "Black women" or "Black men" in the search field (because those are two topics that interest me a lot) and I will see the walking definition of triggered, each and every time. Sometimes, people are so quick to "clapback" at what someone else has said that I say to myself, "I wonder if they took a moment to think about what they just said and who might see it". Because, again, nothing on the internet is ever really deleted. Not too long ago, when I wrote the article, "Should You Really Not Care About What Other People Think?", I shared that there are some people whose insights (even on us) we should care about. But trolls and people who don't invest in our lives whatsoever? Why even give them the power to get all stressed out and frazzled?

There are some individuals I know who are always stirring up stuff online because that's how they are offline as well. It's like being combative and a know-it-all are their love languages or something. But spending—or is it wasting?—precious time that you'll never get back letting people piss you off and then going back and forth with them—is it really worth it? If you're like some folks and you're constantly looking for a fight—hey, have at it…I guess. But if you're not, I promise you that taking out some time to deep breathe and process before replying to someone who triggers you could, quite possibly, change your approach in how you respond or…bring you to the conclusion that they don't deserve one at all.

5. Are You About to Totally Contradict Yourself?

Folks are a trip. Whenever I see a headline about someone who said something 10 years ago that gets everyone in cyberspace all up in a tizzy, 7 times out of 10, what I tend to be like is, "Wow. So, a person can't evolve in an entire decade?" If all of us were only held to what we said or did when we were 10 years younger, I'd venture to say that most of us would have days when we wouldn't want to come out of the house. But that's what growth and evolution are all about.

Unfortunately, social media isn't nearly as empathetic to this point, let alone forgiving. So, another thing to ask yourself is if you are about to post something that totally contradicts something else that you have already said. Hey, I'm not saying that if that is indeed the case that you should say nothing at all. All I'm saying is if one day, you've got one perspective and, three months later, that perspective has changed (even a little bit), don't be shocked in the least if someone is more than happy to pull up the receipts that you have changed your mind as they challenge you on it. It happens ALL of the time. Just ask that so-called president of ours.

6. Are You Aware That a Publication Could Possibly Pick “It” Up?

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I ain't gonna name no names, but there are certain websites out here that, quite frankly, I don't think would exist if they weren't constantly going to Black Twitter for content. And who's getting paid for what they write? Them not the original creator of the content. That's why I think it's so important for folks to read articles like "Social Media's New Intellectual Property Challenges" and "Intellectual Property Law in the Age of Social Media" because, while social media can be hella convenient, don't think that you're not the media's—and data collectors'—dream when it comes to content that they can draw from.

A woman by the name of Erin Bury once said, "Don't say anything online that you wouldn't want plastered on a billboard with your face on it." Indeed. I'll add to that and say, "Also, don't post anything that could end up making a company thousands of dollars and you nothing if revenue for your pure genius is what you're ultimately after."

Intellectual property is something that a lot of people don't know nearly enough about; especially when it comes to what they put online. It can only benefit you to do a little research before you start hacking away on your own social media accounts. Never say that a sistah didn't warn you.

7. Why Are You Posting What You’re About to Post?

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A woman by the name of Adrie Peterson once said, "If you can't say it to their face, don't post it." Say a word, say a word. One day, we'll have to get into all of the ridiculous passive aggressiveness that happens on social media that is actually pretty toxic behavior. So, why do a lot of people do it? Personally, I think that it is cowardly behavior. They don't have the balls to approach someone directly so they will be vague online. It's a twisted motive.

I think this is a good place to end this particular piece. Motive speaks to what causes us to do the things that we do, along with what we are looking to get out of it. Before you make your very next online post, take a moment to really ponder what your underlying reason is. Is it to encourage others? It is to draw attention to yourself? Is it to "start something" with some random person? Is it to give others something to think about? Is it because you can't seem to go a day without saying something? The reasons can run the gamut. All I'm advising is to be clear on what your true agenda is. If you do that, whatever reactions you receive afterwards, you will be better prepared for, all because you know why you are doing what you do. Be wise out in cyberspace, y'all. It's literally a world—and jungle—of its own.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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