Here's why more US employees self-censor social media posts

Our online presence has infiltrated the workplace, but is what we post affecting our promotions at work?
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

With the world being always accessible in the palm of our hands, it's often difficult to disconnect.

It's hard to believe that in 2005 only 5% of adults in the US used at least one social media platform. Now, in 2019, almost three-out-of-four (72%) people are active on social media, so it's no wonder that the lines between our home and work lives are becoming blurred. We are suffering from social media overload.

But what happens when your co-workers (or even boss) decide they want to follow you online?

Vancouver, BC-based job interview company The Interview Guys studied data from 1,024 employees who had been followed by a friend or colleague across their social media accounts. It wanted to discover more about their self-censorship behavior online.

Almost all respondents (97.8%) reported being followed or friended by their colleagues on Facebook, followed by 82.1% on Instagram, 75.6% on Snapchat, and 65.2% on Twitter.

Most of these connections (94.8%) came from co-workers they interacted with daily. Almost half of these friend requests (48%) however, came from people higher up in the organization such as supervisors or managers. 

However, several respondents reported having an account purely for work purposes. Almost one in five (19.5%) had a work account on Twitter, 15.1% on Facebook, 13.9% on Instagram and 13.3% on Snapchat.

Three in 10 employees accepted friend requests to keep the peace at work, as having a good relationship with your co-worker is crucial to job-related success. Is it worth accepting a friend request from someone you do not particularly like, or have a difficult relationship with at work?

Many employees self-censor their posts because colleagues can see them. Employees over 50 years old self-censored their posts 20% more than employees in their 20s.

Over two out of five (41%) employees in their 20s admitted to avoiding posting content that involves drinking or drug use on their social media profiles.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents acknowledged using privacy settings on their social posts, followed by around 76% who did the same for their photos.

Here's why more US employees self-censor social media posts
(Image: The Interview Guys)

The main topics employees avoided posting about because their co-workers could see them were: Political feelings (36.0%), drinking or drug use (34.2%), and anti-company statements (32.0%).

Around 31% of respondents in their 50s or older avoided posting about the company they worked for.

Two-out-of-five employees say their company is strict on their social media usage outside of work, and one in three people report knowing someone whose employer terminated them based on their actions on social media.

Over 30% of people say companies should screen job applicants' social media as part of the hiring process. One in 10 employees said they were required to disclose their social media profiles when they applied for their current position. 

Social media contributed to the burnout that many experience at work, and added to anxiety about their colleagues monitoring their social activity. Perhaps it is time to take a step back.

If you keep your social profiles public, don't be surprised if you find co-workers lurking on your content. You might want to scrub your social media posts and job hop to a better career.

It might be time to revisit your privacy settings and make sure your private posts stay that way.

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