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29% Fear Social Media Will Get Them Fired: Survey

By Betty Wang, JD | Last updated on

More than 1 in 4 young adults have posted things on social media that they fear may be used against them when it comes to employment, a new FindLaw survey reveals.

Among 18- to 34-year-old social media users, 29 percent say they feared that their photos, comments, or other personal information could come back to bite them -- either by causing a prospective employer to turn them down for a job, or by giving a current employer a reason to fire them.

Because of that fear, many have indeed deleted their posts, and have taken action in other ways as well. Here are some of the main highlights from the FindLaw social media survey:

  • 29% of young social media users fear their posts could cause trouble at work. This is a valid fear, as many people have learned the hard way. If your employment is "at-will," your employer has the right to terminate you at any time for any cause, with a few exceptions. (For example, discriminatory reasons for firing, such as those based on sex or race, are not allowed.) So a Facebook photo or comment that divulges a company secret, that disparages customers, or that's just downright offensive, could give an employer a reason to fire you.
  • 21% of young social media users have removed or taken down a social media posting over employment concerns. As mentioned above, this move may be a wise one, especially if you are an at-will employee. Sometimes, it may not even be your own photo or comment that leads to you getting into trouble, but rather, anything linked to you. While it may be hard to catch incriminating posts by others, you do still have control over your own account. So before posting, if something seems questionable, you should always err on the side of caution.
  • 82% of young social media users say they pay at least some attention to their privacy settings. Paying attention to your privacy settings is crucial. Often, your default privacy settings on a social media platform may be the most public option available. This can leave you vulnerable not only to unwanted eyes viewing your personal information, but to be exposed to other things like being hacked, and perhaps even identity theft. For younger teen users, this is an especially important consideration.

In addition to checking their privacy settings, young social media users may also want to limit the personal information they share online, and think twice before posting anything to social media.

Still, if your social media activity does somehow result in negative consequences at work, it may be wise to consult an experienced employment lawyer to make sure your employer's action was legal.

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