Mindful Sharing: 5 Reasons To Be Careful About What You Post Online


by Nathalie Billiau, Sales Administration & Audit Representative


With summer upon us, we are likely to share dozens of pictures on our social media accounts of the last day of school, ice cream sundaes, pool parties, barbecues, and sunny vacations, at the same time looking up old friends whom we plan to visit or invite to some of our events. Over the years, social media has become the most widely used form of information sharing for teens and adults alike. The most common uses for teens revolve around socializing, sharing photos/videos with friends, creating events, etc. Many adults utilize their social media accounts on a business and personal level, and with all of the benefits social networking offers, it is easy to overlook the risks that are involved with posting to these social accounts. Here are five points to be mindful of as you leverage the power of your social media platforms:

1.  Nothing is private.

Anyone who follows you or is otherwise connected to you online can take a screenshot of your social media post or image and “share” it. While you might believe that you are sharing your content only with friends, remember that anything you type and publish on an electronic device may be accessible to others. While your social networking sites have security settings in place, those default settings are not necessarily enough to protect your personal information. To boost security, you must login to your account and modify your settings to protect yourself from potential hackers and/or impersonators. Online social media sites are constantly upgrading and updating their privacy settings, sometimes making it easier for your contacts or “friends of friends” to access and share your information with their networks. Let’s face it, we’ve all accepted a “friend or follow request” from a friend of a friend who stumbled upon one of our posts and “liked” it. We may not know anything about that person but we accept the request anyway because we don’t want to be perceived as being rude, or the thought of a higher number of followers might be appealing. There are no guarantees where information you shared is going to end up or how it is going to be perceived.

2.  The Internet is forever.

Content shared on the internet is never deleted. It is out there, waiting to be found. Even though you may have deleted content from your profile, you don’t know who has already seen it and/or stored it. You and other users of that site might not be able to see the deleted info, but it’s still stored somewhere. And in some cases, that content doesn’t really belong to you anymore. You can minimize your online footprint by personally deleting info from your social media sites, which will lower the chances of your data being further shared, but the reality is that you can never completely remove yourself or your information from the internet.

3. Your posts are searchable.

If there is even the slightest chance that you may regret posting a photo, a joke, a comment, or a complaint online, then don’t do it. You never know who is looking you up and what their intentions are. Anyone with the right tools and time on their hands can look you up and, with a little effort, dig up your old posts that you had long forgotten about.

4. Your posts could cost you a job.

Employers are looking online. Before you’re even hired, and possibly before you’re even interviewed, recruiters and hiring managers are looking through your social media posts to learn more about you. Your current employer may be reviewing your social media profiles when evaluating you or considering you for a promotion. Your clients and vendors search online. If they find content that you are sharing that does not align with their values, it could depreciate your value as a partner. Distasteful comments, online “arguments,” and negative feedback can come back to haunt you. This applies to anything that might tarnish your image, such as profanity, angry rants, videos, and photos that show you drunk or drinking. Your reputation is at stake. Also, what is missing from your social media may affect a potential opportunity: If you state in person that you regularly volunteer at your local food bank and soup kitchens, but there is not even a mention of volunteer work on your page, or if you falsify personal information, your integrity may come into question.

5. Misunderstandings occur.

You might think you are the funniest person you know, but when an online “joke” falls on the wrong audience, it can offend and hurt them. Consider who might be reading your posts and how they will react to your photos, jokes, and comments. You might think that your meaning is clear when you post a comment, but it’s easy for misunderstandings to occur. So always think twice before you post a comment: How will your words come across?

If you’re a heavy user of social media and this article scared you, good. The truth is that we really can’t trust social media, and even the smallest mistakes — posts which may seem fine at the time — can have terrible consequences when you least expect it. So, be careful.