Editor’s note: Shira Lazar is a social media and Internet culture expert and an award-winning Web show host. She is the host and producer of YouTube shows “What’s Trending” and “Partners Project.” She is on Twitter.
Social media is like a game of broken telephone constantly being played out online. Whether you're a celebrity or a regular Joe, you need to assume that anything you post has the ability to be used against you and misinterpreted by the public.
We now live in a time when our social media profiles become an archive of not only who we are, but also who we've dated and who might not be in our lives anymore.
We saw drama unfold on social media when Demi Moore, known for years as @MrsKutcher on Twitter, didn't change her name immediately after her breakup with Ashton Kutcher. This became a news story, and the buzz only got bigger when she finally made the leap, asking her own followers to help suggest the name change, finally going with @justdemi.
"So hard finding a name that was fun somewhat playful and available. So for now it will be @justdemi It could grow on me!” Moore tweeted.
Celebs no longer need paparazzi to break news of their dates, make-ups, breakups or one-night stands. We can just search social networks for new or deleted followers, photos and status updates that may reveal a piece of relationship news.
Just look at the recent tribulations of Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom. They didn’t need a magazine exclusive to break the news. All Kardashian did was drop the name Odom from her Twitter handle, which was fodder enough for fan and gossip sites.
The same goes for Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth. Their reps confirmed their split on September 16, but a quick social search reveals that Cyrus unfollowed her now ex on September 14 and that he returned the favor a few days later.
So, what can we do to make breakups less public as we continue to live our lives more publicly? While there is no one solution to keeping public information private, here are some notes on social media breakup etiquette:
Keep it clean
Don’t post dirty, nasty messages or photos, including during divorce. It becomes awkward for everyone involved and anyone watching. Plus, what you tweet or post publicly can be used against you in court.
Keep it real
If people are going to speculate, you might as well break the news yourself. Let the facts be from the source and no one else. Katy Perry made this clear when she unfollowed former hubby Russell Brand on Twitter and posted "NO ONE speaks for me. Not a blog, magazine, 'close sources' or my family."
Keep it simple
No need to be an oversharer about your breakup. Why give people who might be feasting on your breakdown more fuel for the fire? Make a statement and move on. While Seal's “The End” tweet seemed a bit cryptic, it obviously revealed his forthcoming divorce from Heidi Klum.
Keep your statement to 140 characters
Case in point: Kelsey Grammer took to Twitter to announce his divorce to his wife of 13 years, Camille. While the update was sincere, it also got cut off. "Hello everyone thank you for ur support and Yes it's TRUE Camille and I are Divorcing I ask U 2 respect our privacy in these difficult…" Oops!