tweeted an embarrassing photo of her open-mouthed sleeping sweetheart, Irish golf champ Rory McIlroy, back in September. And now said pic is raising a major ruckus.
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It's even led to reports that the famous pair have split, although she denies it. Speaking with Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet on Monday, she said, “I’m so tired of the rumors. They occur every time Rory and I are apart a few days or do not write on Twitter. There is nothing in it, and from now on I just think that I will keep my private life private. It is so annoying that the media and the so-called sources constantly spread the rumors. They write just what they want."
At the heart of all the reports is the photo of McIlroy, shared with Wozniacki’s half-million-plus Twitter followers in September:
It garnered many subtle admonishments, including one from Serena Williams, who wrote, “OMG Caro u are soooo mean!!!! Love it!!” Swedish golfer Annika Sorenstam noted, “Sure he is happy you shared this!!”
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The story is serving as a good lesson about how not to use social media when you’re in a relationship—something that oversharing folks, from Miley Cyrus to Rihanna, may want to give some thought to.
“It’s wrong to post a picture of someone without permission,” Julie Spira, online dating expert and author of “The Rules of Netiquette,” tells Yahoo Shine. “Not everyone is on the same digital page,” she says, adding that Wozniacki should have shown the snap to McIlroy and asked if he minded her tweeting it to the world. “Everything now is in-the-moment—capture the moment, post and share it. She might have thought it was an innocent thing, but I wouldn’t be happy either. She should take it down.”
It’s important in relationships nowadays, Spira explains, to have a clear conversation about where both parties stand on social media. “You should ask things like, ‘How do you feel about posting photos of us as a couple?’ Also, don’t do a kiss-and-tell unless you get permission from your significant other. Not everyone shares the same amount, and not everyone uses social media in the same way.”
For example, she says, women tend to post more about relationships than men do. And some people use Facebook more for professional networking than social sharing, and would be embarrassed if they showed up in an intimate kind of photo. (A 2010 relationship survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that two-thirds of attorneys said that Facebook was the primary source of evidence in divorce proceedings.)
Social media rules and decisions are best tackled together, as a couple, Spira adds. “Like relationship status. Should you have one? Should you change it? It’s not a unilateral decision,” she says. “It’s a decision best made together.”
So what was Wozniacki aiming for with the insensitive post of her boyfriend? The same thing everyone else is seeking on social media, for the most part. “They are looking for acknowledgment and recognition,” Spira says. “There’s something I call ‘Social Media Anxiety Disorder,’ which is when you post something, and then needing to know know how many people ‘liked’ it, shared it, or commented on it. I’ve known people who get depressed when their Klout score goes down, and feel like nobody loves them. It’s like a digital popularity contest.”
According to social media expert Peter Shankman, these online issues all boil down to respect.
“At the end of the day, I guarantee you he feels disrespected. This screams, 'You do not respect me,'” he tells Yahoo Shine. If Wozniacki had simply taken the photo and shown it to McIlroy, Shankman guesses that he most likely would have just laughed. And so before sharing a photo, he suggests, "Ask yourself, 'Will this cause any drama?' If the answer is yes, then don't post it."
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