How Permanent Is Social Media?

If someone told you 20 years ago that the incoming President of the United States would primarily communicate to the public using 140 character text messages typed on his phone, you would have called that person a lunatic. However, in 2017 social media applications and websites are everywhere. Almost all Canadians are now using social media to stay in touch with their friends and colleagues and to post photos and updates of their daily activities.

While the technology is impressive, we must remember that everything done online leaves a permanent record. Embarrassing photos and social media posts are often only a click away. Cringe-worthy posts can have drastic consequences for young people. For example, it has been reported that 93% of recruiters check out social media when they are considering hiring someone.

Many young people have become so used to posting everything on social media that they forget that a university admissions professional or a potential employer will likely one day be looking at social media before they make an important decision about that young person’s future.

What can be done? Many will be surprised to learn that even deleting a social media account will usually not permanently eliminate the offending post or photo. Most large companies (e.g. Facebook and Google) maintain copies of your data in case you later want to reopen your account. In personal injury lawsuits, injured people have to be particularly careful not to post anything that they would not want to one day see entered into evidence in court. There is no perfect solution but the best advice is to be very careful about what you post online and to maintain the strictest privacy settings on all social media sites.

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