HomeSC WIL Online Leadership CoursesElected Office CourseLesson: Skeletons in the Closet

In the Your Online Presence lesson, you took a careful inventory of what you’ve put out on the internet to make sure the public record you’ve created for yourself is exactly what you want it to be now. Even with tidy social media accounts and the right public and private settings on your accounts, you may have a skeleton or two in your closet that could come back to haunt you. 

Let’s face it, we all wish we could hit the “do-over” button sometimes. Just because you have something out there you can’t control doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared to handle it if and when it comes up again. This lesson will teach you how to handle it like a pro.

Founding Editor of Fits News Will Folks says “If you’re being attacked, you’re doing something right.” (1 min. 47 sec. watch)

What do you do about stuff out there you can’t control?

  • Have the facts to ensure you are telling the truth and give you confidence in telling your story the way it should be told
  • Don’t lie – voters understand and even relate, but don’t respond well to trying to cover up of hide information
  • Decide what you want to say–for certain situations, like recovering from addiction or something involving a family member–it’s ok to say the situation is private and you won’t be discussing it. Sharing incredibly personal situations can also illustrate an issue you care deeply about.

And what about those pesky nudes….or a sex tape?

  • If they are on your own phone or computer, consider saving to a secure hard drive or deleting. If they are potentially on someone else’s phone or computer, ask for the video back or for them to delete it, but realize they may have made a copy.
  • What’s the worst case scenario? If you can live with it, prepare a response. That could be “The video is private and I will not be apologizing or commenting on it.”


Use the Public Records Cheat Sheet to find any skeletons left in your closet.

Additional Resources:

Founding Editor of Fits News Will Folks advises taking action when media is spreading false information. (1 min. 47 sec. watch)
Richland County Councilwoman Chakisse Newton and communications strategist Christy Cox advise women not to be dissuaded from running because of fear about something from your past. (8 min. & 21 sec. watch)

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