So you’ve tweeted something you regret, or posted a photo that seemed funny the night before (and less so the morning after). Sometimes we post things on social media that we wish we hadn’t, and sometimes we post things that could be damaging. And recent research suggests that more than 1 in 4 young people in the US are cleaning up their social media profiles for fear that what they post could damage their job prospects.
The survey of 1,000 US adults found that 29% of 18-34 year olds had posted a photo, comment or personal information online that they feared would hinder their current or future job prospects. 21% went further and deleted posts they thought might be compromising.
This behaviour is another example of the growing conciousness among social media users of the need to curate their own online image. As we share more and more data and information online, we are becoming more aware of the value to us of this data and the value it may be to other people. How brands might use the data we share to understand better their markets and consumers, but also how people and organisations might use this to understand us better. How our social media posts may come back to haunt us.
The case of how our social data exhaust impacts our current and (potential) future employers is a clear one for people to understand – that status update about how frustrated you are, or that photo of you in the park when you are ‘working from home’ are not necessarily the image you would give on interview or when talking to your manager. That people are recognising the need to take control of their online image and what they share is a positive thing.
But as we use more social media tools, and share more data about ourselves online, we will need to increasingly think about who can see what – and what is shared with whom. And we need to be pro-actively planning and managing our personal image online with the same care you might give to your CV.
Pruning the image we leave behind after the event is useful, but you can never truly delete things that you have shared.