Justine Sacco, a PR executive who made the mistake of tweeting a racist joke before leaving on an 11-hour flight to South Africa.

She was fired as soon as she landed in Cape Town, after her tweet had spread virally throughout the internet. Imagine what it must be like to disembark from an airplane and realize that thousands of people know your name — and that your employer no longer needs your services.

The Fine Line of Social Networking

What does this mean for you? It means that you need to balance the careful art of creating a personable, attractive social media profile without giving away too much information or giving employers a reason to fire you.

It means you need to know how to both prevent and identify the signs of identity theft, and how to tell when your social media profiles have been hacked. Simply put, it means you need to be careful about what you put on social media, and what it says about you.

First, you need to think about what information you want to share. Take a quick glance at your social media profiles, from Facebook to Linkedin, and see what types of information are revealed.

Do you come across as a responsible adult, or a person who parties every weekend? What does it look like you truly value: your friends, your job, your hobbies, or your shoes? Can any part of your profiles be considered offensive?

If your publicly shared information doesn’t reflect the person you want to present to the world, it’s time to fix them.

Make sure your private information is not public. On Linkedin, for example, your email address may show up as contact information without you realizing that.

For business-related social media platforms like that one, make sure to only provide business contact details. Even if you operate or work for a small business, you can set up a business email address for free, without running into a risk of making your private email public.

Social media advertising targeting is another aspect to consider here. By social media ads that you see on your feeds, you can easily tell how much a social media network knows about you.

This is especially tricky with Facebook which has become really smart at targeting users with ads. Facebook pixel can follow you everywhere allowing the platform to know which sites you visit and what you’d like to buy. When allowing those cookies, keep that in mind.


Social media is an important part of modern life, and it is a good way to keep in touch with friends and meet new people. It’s also a dangerous way to share too much information, if you’re not careful.

The sooner you learn how to walk the fine line of social networking, the better off you — and your social media profiles — will be.