Social Media: Regrets
Nowadays, social media has made sharing so easy that sometimes in the heat of the moment, it's easier to share than to think about what you're sharing and its consequences. These types of impulsive behaviour on social media might result in social media regrets - also known as Poster's Remorse or Poster's Regret. According to FindLaw.com, based on a "demographically balanced" survey, 29% of adult social media users admit that they have posted tweets, comments, photos, or pieces of personal information that could have jeopardised their current or future job prospects. However, the consequences are not just limited to job prospects, and they can have wider impacts on users' future.
Based on FindLaw's survey, about 74% of 18 to 34-year-olds have removed a post that they thought it could have caused "negative reaction" from current or prospective employer. Although removing or taking down a post may be a quick response, it's not the definitive solution as the information may continue to live on other parts of the internet (even Google's Eric Schmidt - who used to be against privacy, but now is in favour of privacy - thinks that the internet needs a "delete button", but still doesn't have one!) and this means that your online life will be immortal, like electronic tattoos.
There are many examples for social media regrets like the famous story of Burger King employees fired over viral lettuce pic, or proposal with stolen ring. It doesn't always have to be as extreme as these ones. Even a status update on Facebook or Linkedin saying that you hate your current job, or a tweet about calling in sick for work tomorrow may not seem as bad as the other ones, but still, they can come back to bite you! Specially, when you don't know your audience, and also you don't have enough control over your privacy settings.
However, even if you are in control of your privacy settings, others might not. Posting a stupid drunken photo on Facebook may seem to be funny while you're drunk, but it can become a life-long hangover. Even if you just share it with your close friends, they can share with their friends, and it can easily go viral. And the problem is when it's online, there's no way to stop it.
These examples of social media regrets have been around for some time now, and people are more familiar with them. However, the new wave of social media regrets have begun with the likes of Silk Road, Blackmarket Reloaded becoming popular. Teens posting idiotic photos of the illegal drugs they bought online, and bragging about it on Tumblr using their real names and photos are exactly the kinds of behaviour that most likely will result in social media regrets (source: The Daily Dot).
As the number of social media users grows, the concerns about these issues such as privacy, posting too much information, and social media regrets increase. Since the unwanted consequences can be significant and there is no way to undo them, prevention seems to be the best way to approach the problem. The key here is to educate and raise awareness, both about privacy settings control and online behaviour, in order to prevent such problems.
Have you ever regretted a tweet or a status update or a photo you posted on social media, or worry about your electronic tattoos? Share your thoughts in the comments.