DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Social media moves fast and lasts forever.
It’s a lesson that often hits the rich and famous hardest.
Over the weekend, hours after winning the Heisman Trophy, University of Oklahoma and former Allen quarterback Kyler Murray apologized for some anti-gay teenage tweets.
Murray tweeted early Sunday morning, “I apologize for the tweets that have come to light tonight from when I was 14 ad 15. I used a poor choice of word that doesn’t reflect who I am or what I believe. I did not intend to single out any individual or group.”
“Delete doesn’t mean delete anymore,” says Dallas attorney, author and law professor John Browning. “In the digital age, once it’s out there, it’s out there.”
Browning, an attorney with Passman & Jones, has been a witness to careers ruined and opportunities lost due to misuse of social media. Even youthful indiscretions can still lead to consequences.
“There are students who have lost football scholarships because of tweets and Facebook posts and things like that have surfaced,” says Browning, agreeing that Kevin Hart’s missed opportunity to host the Oscars and a Heisman win are more public examples, but ‘everyday people’ are feeling the impact of a bad social media past. “You may never even get on the field.”
The warning comes as no surprise to Dallas mom Sheryl Young– a self described cautious user of social media.
“It absolutely has real consequences! And I don’t think people are taking it seriously enough– and they really should.”
Young says she primarily uses social media to monitor her young adult daughter’s online activities. “I have one rule– what goes on in this house, stays in this house! It is not fodder for Facebook, Instagram, any of that!”
If you are active online, experts warn that someone is always watching, even if you aren’t famous.
“It can be getting a job,” says Browning. “It can be getting admitted to the college of your choice: it really has incredible consequences, far ranging consequences.”
So what to do? Don’t post mean-spirited, offensive content, period.
Browning calls it ‘the grandmother test.’ If you don’t want your grandmother to read it on the front page of the newspaper, don’t post it. If possible, delete offensive content– while realizing that someone may already have a screen shot.
Finally, if offensive posts surface, be prepared to confess and apologize, while sincerely resolving to do better.
“The ‘cloud’ is just going to rain every now again and spill all your secrets,” warns Young.