Living in the digital age, where most of us have multiple social media accounts across multiple of social networking platforms, it comes as no surprise that we leave a huge digital trail behind us. What we put out online is never gone, and even when we do commit to deleting old posts, nothing on the internet is ever truly erased. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to clean up your online footprint by deleting old posts and unfollowing questionable accounts.
It’s now commonplace for potential employers to check the online history of job applicants as part of the pre-interview vetting process. If you have old, public posts lurking in your online history that express controversial views or views that don’t align with the company’s own, it may cost you a job or promotion opportunity.
While universities and colleges don’t take online history into account as much as places of work, it is still something that is now often considered. Some universities track applicants’ online activity to see what they really think about the university in question and to grasp an idea of if they have applied anywhere else, and if their character is a good ‘fit’ for the university. This means that those past tweets you posted about having ‘no motivation‘ or ‘hating‘ the educational system may influence how prospective universities view you and therefore if they offer you a place.
There has been a rise in employees being fired over the last few years for their social media activity. People from all sectors and levels of employment have been let go due to controversial social media posts, many of their stories going viral as didactic warnings of being careful of what you post online. Your social media history is not the only way social media can cost someone their job. Exposing someone’s involvement in controversial movements or groups via social media has become a more common occurrence too, and is referred to as ‘doxxing’. After the Charlottesville white supremacist marches in America last year, many attending the march had pictures of them participating circulating online, with social media users working to find out their names and places of work, emailing their employers to make them aware of their employee’s involvement in the march. Many who were doxxed online for their attendance were fired from their jobs as a result. If your online history or any information about you that is posted online misrepresents your workplace’s values, it really can cost you your job.
What You Can Do About It
It’s best to trawl through your social media accounts to find posts that you want to delete, but a good starting point before deciding to sit down and delete old posts is to google yourself and see what comes up and start from there in deciding what online profiles to prioritise cleaning up. There are multiple useful methods of how to delete your old tweets and the easiest way to protect your reputation when online is to keep your accounts private. Before you post, consider how what you’re putting out onto the internet reflects on you and how you would view that post in hindsight.