JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- You've seen the headlines, social media mistakes that tear lives and businesses apart.

There are countless examples on the Internet, like story of Justine Sacco, a PR executive who tweeted an insensitive comment about Aids before boarding an 11-hour flight to Africa. By the time her plane landed, she had become a viral sensation -- she was retweeted thousands of times and then fired.

Or maybe you have seen the post showing a group of high school girls in Arizona wearing shirts that appear to spell out a racial slur. After the picture went viral, the girls were punished by the school and received anonymous threats.

Locally, you may remember the name Christopher Chaney. He admitted to hacking celebrities and even leaked some of their personal photos online.

So what do you do if you suddenly become a viral sensation or you are hacked?

Going viral is more serious than most parents may realize.

"You've got young kids that post stuff, that will haunt them the rest of their lives," says John Daigle with Daigle Creative.

Though his company mainly focuses on public relations for businesses and politicians, many of the same points apply to people in crisis situations. If you make a monstrous social media mistake, Daigle suggests you apologize immediately. He says your reaction to the mistake can either add fuel to the fire or it can help calm the storm.

"You can't pull back that tweet you sent out there in anger or in a rushed way, but you can say, 'Hey it wasn't right, I wish I hadn't done that,'" he explains.

Expect there to still be people who berate you as the anonymity provided the Internet makes people easy targets. And don't respond to the vitriol -- any message you send after your apology should be positive.

"You need to own your own social media presence," says Daigle.

He also suggests setting up a Google Alert for your name or the name of your business. Then you can possibly catch a tweet or issue that is picking up steam online before it goes viral.

The bottom line is, think before you tweet.

Getting hacked can be just as, if not more, devastating to your life. Especially if your personal information and photos are leaked online.

"But once they are out on the internet, they are out," says Swapnoneel Roy, who teaches computer security classes at the University of North Florida.

So prevention is the top priority. Make passwords strong -- especially to your iCloud account. That's how hackers have gotten their hands on celebrity photos in the past. Also be careful what you click on your computer, so you don't get "click-jacked."

"You click the link, but when you release, it goes to a different website," says Roy.

If you do get hacked, whether it be your financial information or your photos, file a police report. In the case of photos, get a lawyer. You'll need one to help copyright your photo and then contact any websites posting it to take it down. But remember, prevention is the best way to keep your private information... private.