“The internet’s not written in pencil, Mark, it’s written in ink,” said Erica Albright on The Social Network.
Our online posts are permanent, they can’t be rubbed out. Even after they’ve been deleted, a record of them could still exist somewhere. What we say online could have long-lasting consequences, so it’s a good idea to pause before posting, and think about what you’re posting.
If you’re still not convinced, here are four reasons why you should think before posting:
1. You wouldn’t say it to their face
The internet makes it easier for you to speak your mind, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. A nasty remark made online is just as hurtful as one made offline, perhaps even more so because the record of it will remain online for a long time, even after it’s deleted. Whether it’s your friend, family member, or a stranger, you should think before posting.
2. Your friend wouldn’t want that picture online
So, you have a bit of a dilemma. You have a great photo from your birthday party, with you looking amazing. You’re just about to upload the photo when you notice your best friend in the corner of the photo. They’re enjoying a piece of your birthday cake, perhaps a bit too much because there’s cake all over their face. Should you upload the photo anyway? Perhaps you should ask them first.
3. Posting photos or videos of illegal activity could get you into trouble
It is not a good idea to brag about your illegal escapades online. Yes, you probably felt very clever about fooling that bottle shop owner into thinking you were 18, when in fact you are 15, but this is illegal. If you post a photo of yourself drinking alcohol online, the joke may be on you because you could be fined a lot of money, much more than the amount you paid for the alcohol.
4. Sharing that article may be inappropriate
Most of us share links without a second thought. When we find a funny article, we want our friends to enjoy it too. However, if the content of the article is inappropriate, this may reflect badly on you. For example, your boss may not appreciate that hilarious article about how to phone in sick without being caught.
While the internet gives us the freedom to speak our mind, we shouldn’t do so without thinking. Be prudent and informed, and reduce your reputational risk.