Social media is increasingly blurring the lines between our personal and professional lives, putting us at risk of posting sensitive information that could have consequences far beyond our “friends” list.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin recently discovered this the hard way after a video of her dancing and drinking with friends, first posted on a private Instagram account, was leaked to the press. Marin was forced to apologize and even volunteered for a drug test after weathering a global media storm.
Other forms of over-sharing can also have consequences. In 2020, the police in Australia shared photos of arrested ex-footballer Dani Laidley in a private WhatsApp group, after which the photos were made public. Thirteen officers were suspended or transferred, and some were charged with privacy and human rights violations.
Many employers are introduce policy to reduce this type of risk. Our research shows what causes a lot of online oversharing – and we can give some tips to keep yourself away from social media scandal.
The Personal and Professional Risks of Sharing Too Much
People have different preferences for the boundaries between their professional and personal lives. Some prefer to keep their working relationship formal, while others treat colleagues as friends.
But even if we choose to maintain strong boundaries between our professional and personal lives, we can still find details of our lives revealed by others on social media.
‘I’m human…But I haven’t missed a day of work, not a single task, and I never will’ – Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin continued to defend herself against the fallout from several leaked videos showing her drinking and party with personal friends pic.twitter.com/sA82YnpNxJ
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) August 25, 2022
Research reported that more than half of us are concerned about family, friends, and colleagues sharing information, photos, or videos that we don’t want to make public. But many of us also reveal an inappropriate amount of detail about our own lives (“oversharing”) on social media, and regret it later.
In addition to the potential for embarrassment, random sharing on social media can have significant negative impacts on your professional life. Many employers actively use social media to: examining applicantswhile some employees have lost their jobs because of social media posts.
Emotions cause too much sharing
Why do so many of us tend to share too much? Our research suggests that emotions are central.
When we feel strong emotions, we often use social media to communicate with and get support from friends, family and colleagues. We can share good news when we feel happy or excited, or anger and frustration can prompt us to vent about our employers.
When we’re emotional, it’s easy for us to cross the line between work and social life, underestimating the consequences of social media posts that can quickly go viral.
We have five simple tips for people to avoid sharing too much and creating a social media scandal for themselves or others.
1. Set clear boundaries between private life and work
Be clear about the boundaries between your social life and work. Set rules, limits, and acceptable behavior to protect these boundaries.
Let your friends, colleagues and family know what your expectations are. If someone crosses your boundaries, express your concerns. Think about your relationship with people who don’t respect your boundaries.
You can also set boundaries by keeping separate professional and social accounts on different social media platforms and only sharing things that are relevant to working on your professional account.
2. Respect the boundaries of others
Be aware of and respect the boundaries of others. Do not share photos or videos of others without their permission.
If someone doesn’t want their photo taken, video recorded, or their name tagged, please respect their wishes. Treat others on social media as you would like to be treated.
3. Lock Your Social Media Accounts
Adjust your privacy settings to control who can view your profile and posts.
Most social media platforms offer features to help users protect their privacy online. Facebook’s “Privacy Control Tool‘, for example, shows you what you share and with whom.
— Mashbaar (@mashable) January 6, 2020
Also consider what information you put in your profile. If you do not want your personal social media profile to be associated with your employer, please do not list your employer in your profile.
Do not use social media if you are feeling emotional. Especially if you’re feeling strong emotions, such as pain, anger, or excitement, give yourself time to process your feelings before posting.
Ask yourself: how many people will see this post? Would anyone be injured? Does anyone benefit? Would I feel comfortable if my colleagues or supervisors saw this?
Let’s say what you share can be seen by your friends, enemies, co-workers, boss and another 5,000 people. Stop if you don’t want any of them to see what you think about posting.
Oversharing and accidentally posting are not uncommon. If you have posted any unwanted content, please remove it immediately.
If you’re concerned about information about yourself on someone else’s social media, raise your concerns and ask the person who posted it to remove it.
If the information has spread through multiple sources, it’s a little inconvenient, but it’s worth contacting the website or service hosting the information or image to have the content removed.
If you need more help removing online content, you can also: content removal service.
Posting is forever
Keep in mind that nothing shared on social media is private. Even “private” messages can be easily forwarded, screenshots taken, posted and shared elsewhere.
You should treat social media content as your personal brand. If you wouldn’t tell your colleagues and managers, don’t post it online.
Social media can enrich our professional and personal lives, but thoughtless posts and over-sharing can be harmful to yourself and others. Being smart on social media is something we need to get better at in our professional lives as well as in our personal lives.
- 1 The Personal and Professional Risks of Sharing Too Much
- 2 Emotions cause too much sharing
- 3 1. Set clear boundaries between private life and work
- 4 2. Respect the boundaries of others
- 5 3. Lock Your Social Media Accounts
- 6 4. Share Consciously to Avoid Mistakes
- 7 5. If you share too much, try to delete unwanted content
- 8 Posting is forever