When it first came into popular use, Social Media was a place where friends could share photos, air frustrations, tell jokes, celebrate milestones and make plans. It was largely assumed that anything posted on your profile was private – safe in a space populated only by your friends, family and those close to you.
As time has gone on, the social landscape has developed into a much more public space, with celebrities vying for social influencer status and personal branding pervading much of our everyday lives.
Our private and professional lives are now largely on show – and what you post on the web can have serious and lasting consequences – especially at the moment when most people are working from home and all eyes are on social media for updates on current events…
Remember, Not All Jokes are Funny
Especially now, with the world using humour to cope with the growing pandemic of COVID-19, there’s a lot of inappropriate jokes making the rounds on social media. You may think that you’re the funniest person on the planet, but your particular brand of humour may come off as mean-spirited, offensive or hurtful if it is seen by the wrong person.
Remember to be mindful of what you’re posting as we pass through the next few troubling weeks – as you never know what a friend (or a friend of a friend) may be going through.
Employers could be watching
Now, more than ever, employers may look at your social media for character judgement. Whether they’re assessing your growth potential in the business, checking your viability to remain in your current position or getting a feel for your personality before you come in for an interview – they have access to a lot of the things you put online.
For example: What if you claim to be a nurturing individual? You say you’re the type of person who likes to build people up (because you’re looking to get that promotion) and then your manager sees you online writing thoughtless comments on a random post – they might question your leadership skills and pass you over.
Hiring Managers Will Check
Something as simple as having the wrong graduation date on your LinkedIn profile when compared against your CV can disqualify you from the running.
Potential employers want to see that you’re a passionate individual and that your online persona matches up to the person they’ve been speaking to – because if they can see what you’re posting, so can their clients.
Social media is constantly evolving, but this isn’t always a good thing. Subtle updates to privacy settings can make your posts and your network more accessible to strangers and less of a safe space for you to document your life.
How Private is Private?
Whether your favourite platform is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn – None of your posts are never truly private. You must understand that even if you set the privacy of your post to ‘friends only’ – all it takes is one person to take a screenshot of your post and share it with the world.
You should also be careful with the ‘friends of friends’ setting, as you never know who could be lurking in your extended network and you may be posting photographs or life updates that you don’t want widely discussed.
Content Never Dies
Even if the social platform you’re using shuts down and is removed from the internet – you have to understand that the content you posted on it has a life of its own. Anyone with access to your posts can take screenshots or share them – so nothing is truly contained to the platform it started on. I’m sure you’ve all seen a screenshot of a tweet on your Facebook timeline. Plus, with the rise of internet archiving services, it’s possible that your posts are being logged forever.
You Aren’t Immune to Hackers
Nobody is immune to the codebreaking of a skilled hacker. In just a matter of moments, anything you post online can be leaked by someone accessing your account for unscrupulous reasons. Whether it’s a friend playing a prank on you or a sinister individual looking to steal your identity – nothing you post online is ever truly visible to ‘only me’ – no matter what your post privacy settings say.
Your Posts are Searchable
With most social platforms, it’s possible to search for the type of content you’d like to see. This could be gifs of your favourite TV show or photos of your celebrity crush – but sometimes this doesn’t work to your benefit.
Services like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have enhanced their search functions to promote trending topic and issues – usually through hashtags. This means that anyone looking for the right keyword may see something within your profile that you thought was long gone or don’t want to be widely viewed.
We don’t mean to say that you shouldn’t use social media or that you are wrong for posting certain things – just remember to be mindful when choosing the content that you post and aware of those that can see it. Instead of avoiding social media completely (out of fear of posting something wrong and damaging your reputation), simply make sure to post content that is true, consistent with your values and interesting to your followers.