July 26, 2013

A Quarter of Young People Have Facebook or Other Social Media Postings They May Later Regret, Says New FindLaw.com Survey

Worries that photos and other postings could cost them a job

EAGAN, Minn. – While social media, such as Facebook and Instagram, are popular for sharing photos and other aspects of people’s lives, many users are worried that their postings could someday cost them their job. According to a new survey from FindLaw.com, the most popular legal information website, more than a quarter of young social media users think that something they posted could come back to haunt them.

The survey found that 29 percent of users of Facebook and other social media between the ages of 18 and 34 have posted a photo, comment or other personal information that they fear could someday either cause a prospective employer to turn them down for a job, or a current employer to fire them if they were to see it. The survey covered Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and other popular social media.

A form of “day-after remorse” seems to be evident. Close to the same percentage of young social media users – 21 percent – say that they have removed or taken down a photo or other social media posting because they feared it could lead to repercussions with an employer.  

Users are taking other precautions as well. The same FindLaw.com survey found that 82 percent of young social media users say that they pay at least some attention to their privacy settings. Only six percent said that they pay no attention and only use the default settings when using social media.

“People love using social media to share their thoughts and life experiences,” said Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney-editor with FindLaw.com. “The drawback is that many comments, photos and other information may not be looked upon favorably by employers. And taking down or removing a post or photo may not be enough; as the information may continue to live on in other parts of the Internet. It’s best to assume that anything that you post could live on the Internet forever, and to think accordingly before hitting the ‘Post’ button.”

FindLaw.com offers some suggestions when it comes to managing your social media:

  • Think Before You Post
    Always assume that your boss or a prospective employer could someday see that photo or comment. Your posting may be visible via friends’ and other acquaintances’ social media. Always err on the side of safety and good judgment.
  • Check Your Privacy Settings
    Most social media provide a variety of controls for who is allowed to view postings and other personal information, and what information is being revealed to others. Check settings frequently.  Take your time and be thorough. Always assume that the default settings are biased towards revealing information unless you change them to more private settings.

  • Limit Personal Information
    Be aware of what personal information you are entering when initially registering. Many details of personal information are not required.
  • If You Believe You Were Wrongfully Terminated, Seek Legal Help
    Although many individuals who are terminated from their job feel their termination was “wrongful,” the legal definition of wrongful termination is limited to only those circumstances where an employee was fired for an illegal reasons. Free information on wrongful terminations and directories for finding an attorney specializing in employment law can be found at the Findlaw Employment Law Center.

The FindLaw survey was conducted using a demographically balanced survey of 1,000 American adults and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percent.

Note to editors: Full survey results and analysis are available upon request.

FindLaw, part of Thomson Reuters, is a leading provider of free intelligent legal information, online marketing and client development services, providing the legal industry and consumers with the knowledge to act. Home to the largest online directory of lawyers that assists consumers in finding an attorney by practice area, Findlaw.com is the most popular legal website with nearly 4 million consumers visiting each month for free information about a legal topic, to solve a legal problem, or to find a lawyer.

Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters is the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals.  We combine industry expertise with innovative technology to deliver critical information to leading decision makers in the financial, legal, tax and accounting, healthcare and science and media markets, powered by the world's most trusted news organization.  With headquarters in New York and major operations in London and Eagan, Minnesota, Thomson Reuters employs approximately 60,000 people and operates in over 100 countries.  For more information, go to www.thomsonreuters.com.