Care what you share: what consumers regret posting on social media

  • 32% of people have reviewed or deleted an old social post (from 1-2 years ago) due to their perception of what is deemed socially acceptable.

 

  • New research has revealed which topics are seen as the most inflammatory on social media, with derogatory language and anti-vax views coming out on top

 

Since the dawn of social media, people have been sharing views and building connections based on shared interests. However, as new research from Kaspersky on consumer attitudes towards social media and privacy reveals, whatever we post on social media can have consequences, seriously impacting both personal relationships and career prospects.

According to the study, 42% of Brits claim their social media profiles don’t authentically represent them – in fact, 32% of those who have reviewed or deleted old social media posts have done so in the past two years, with 7% willing to go back even further. The research also found that less than a quarter (23%) would not like to remove anything from their social media presence, while almost a fifth (18%) wish to remove argumentative comments on posts.

Although there is a breadth of posts that seasoned social media users may wish to remove, the five topics that were cited as having the possibility to cause the most issues in the future are:

Using language that’s derogatory towards disabled people

Listed as the most damaging type of post was the use of derogatory language towards disabled people. 39% of people said that they thought this type of post would cause issues with career prospects and/or harm relationships in the future. More than half (58%) of respondents also said that their views of someone would be negatively impacted if they saw them liking a comment or post that was derogatory about a person’s appearance.

Using anti-trans language

Second was anti-trans language, with 35% of people expecting this to cause serious issues. Social media watchdogs have noted a significant increase in anti-trans social media activity, with 1.5 million transphobic comments found amid a wider conversation on LGBT rights. These posts were most often linked other divisive topics including politics, race, and religion. And almost 60% (58%) of people aged 22 to 34 said they would think negatively of someone who liked posts that were openly transphobic or homophobic.

Anti-vax attitudes

Throughout the pandemic, social media has been a space for information sharing and community connection. However, at times, these online spaces have become breeding grounds for divisive and challenging debates. 32% of people said that they thought posts that included anti-vaccine views could cause harm in the future and 45% said that their view of a person would be negatively impacted if they saw them like a post about being anti-mask or anti-vaccine.

Climate change denial

26% of people think posts that deny climate change could be particularly harmful, while 38% would think negatively of someone who liked an anti-climate change post, rising to more than 40% (41%) in the over-35 age group. Additionally, 35% of people would think negatively of someone who liked a post about a conspiracy theory.

Using gender-specific pronouns

As more social media platforms invite users to add their preferred pronouns to their profiles, people have expressed their believe that using gender-specific pronouns in posts may later cause harm. one in five people said this was a topic they’d expect to cause issues in the future if publicly shared online.

David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky, comments: “The ability to share so many views so widely, with such ease, can cause issues when people openly discuss divisive topics. You should always remember who can view your posts and what happens to them even after they are edited or deleted. Conversations about healthcare, climate change and social causes can give rise to heated debate and abuse. It is best to use all social media with caution and think carefully about whether your views should be shared privately or publicly so you don’t regret it later down the line. Social media can be so empowering and with a little forethought you can stay in control of your online persona.

Tony Neate, CEO at Get Safe Online, comments: “Social media is an incredible tool on both a personal and professional level, allowing individuals, groups, communities and organisations to connect, communicate, inform, influence and respond instantly. However, as with all cultural and technological explosions, a degree of caution should be exercised which can be all too easy to forget after having become familiar with platforms for a while. Failure to do this can result in far-reaching consequences for both ourselves and others. Today’s research findings from Kaspersky remind us of the importance of taking care when commenting, posting or sharing, and remembering that what goes online stays online.”