Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 21.
Let me preface everything by saying that social media is a terrible way to get to know someone personally or professionally. Most of the time, people are posting content with ulterior motives to attempt to project a tweaked, shallow image of themselves. It's all a vain effort to maximize their "personal brand," a.k.a. what they aspire to be seen as and garner likes, faves, followers or any fleeting feeling of admiration. It's also how you make a digital impression, and you don't want #ThrowbackThursday photos of you at a college kegger messing with your shot at the corner office.
This handy guide will reveal what you can and can't get away with on each social platform, so you can still have fun without worrying about keeping your image intact.
Zuckerberg's beast of a creation forever changed the way we interact with junior high and high school acquaintances we were looking forward to never seeing again. Now they're littering our feeds with those highly caloric recipe videos and photos of their cats or children, or cats they refer to as their children.
Now for the fun stuff — whatever is considered "public" on your page is visible and fair game to anyone with internet access. If you want to only be private except to your actual friends, go to the privacy section on your page (click the privacy shortcuts that looks like a padlock on the upper right corner of the page) and play with 'privacy checkup' or 'who can see my stuff?' You can also make entire photo albums private if you want to keep your memories intact but out of public consumption.
If you're worried about a specific person (hi HR!) seeing your page, type their name into the search bar of the 'who can see my stuff' section and view your page as if you are them. Don't want a certain someone seeing specific posts? Click the down arrow next to your display name above the post and personalize who's restricted from seeing it.
As of right now there's no way to know who has seen your profile, but there are read receipts on FB messenger so be careful of what you click on. Additionally, if you create an event you can see a list of people who have seen said event and are ignoring you. Ah, the internet, creating so many new ways to interact with one another passive-aggressively.
Back when Twitter was new, a lot of people would get in trouble, because they didn't realize everything you say is public. While a lot of those kerfuffles have gone away save for a few of Anthony Weiner/Carlos Danger slip-ups, there are limited ways Twitter can go poorly for you if you have a locked account/aren't public. If you are public then you have the very real potential of someone sifting through your archives until he finds something in poor taste and publicly blasts you, like what internet trolls regularly do to celebrities.
If you aren't a high-profile person with a job that requires a certain degree of prestige like an executive, doctor or lawyer, then having a locked account takes a lot of the fun out of Twitter. Feel free to network with other like-minded individuals obsessed with bond trading and Hamilton, but be scrupulous of what you're saying on a public platform. It goes without saying that if you're in finance, it's best practice to be a locked account or anonymous unless you're not saying anything that earth shattering.
But what if you are a public account or you wonder what your followers are actually seeing? If someone is looking at your Twitter profile on a desktop computer, he can see tweets that didn't start with another Twitter user's handle (you'll know, because it'll start the @ symbol). If he looks at your profile on mobile, then he can see who you're talking to. The other fun and totally iffy way people can check up on you is by clicking your "likes" tab to see the tweets you recently liked, which is how Ivanka got in trouble a bit ago.
Suppose you want to speak to someone in private? That's when you direct message them or "slide into their DMs," as the kids are calling it. That's totally private, until the person screenshots your advances and tweets them for the world to see.
Don't want someone following you? Block that person! Don't want to unfollow someone because he'll get mad at you but are sick and tired of seeing his tweets — mute him! You'll still get notified when that person tweets at you, so chances are good he'll never figure out you muted him. Twitter is amazing in that way.
The mostly purely visual but extremely popular social app also works similarly to Twitter in that you have the choice in being public or private. If you're locked, people will have to request you, and across the board, people can't tell if you've looked at their profile unless you've "liked" a photo.
Like Twitter, if you want to speak to someone directly without the whole world seeing your comment, you can direct message the user. However, if the person doesn't follow you, he'll have to accept your message. Your friends can also see what photos you've recently liked by clicking on the heart button at the bottom of the app and clicking over to the 'following' tab, so it's best to not like anything too aggressive on there.
Instagram stories are also a fun way to figure out who's looking at your stuff. You'll see which users saw your story, but like Snapchat you'll only know if he took a screenshot; you can't see how many times they viewed it.