As working professionals and students look out for new career opportunities, McAfee is urging job seekers to act now to ensure that their social media footprint does not end up having serious professional repercussions.
Researching the attitude of Indians towards maintaining social media hygiene, McAfee revealed that 21.4% worry that content on their social profiles would negatively affect career/job prospects. Worryingly, despite being a hotbed for personal information and photos, more than half (55.4%) people have at least one dormant social media account, with 41% admitting they’ve not even thought about deleting inactive accounts or giving them a clear out. Worryingly, despite being a hotbed for personal information and photos, more than half (55.4%) people have at least one dormant social media account, with 41% admitting they’ve not even thought about deleting inactive accounts or giving them a clear out.
On the positive side, McAfee also revealed that 63.1% Indians have set up a social media profile, specifically for professional use, with 46.9% preferring to keep personal and work life separate.
Well-publicised examples of celebrities and personalities’ posts coming back to haunt them are all over the news, yet many fail to take even basic steps to ensure prospective employers aren’t able to see content that could impact their professional image. More than a quarter (30.6%) admit to only deleting posts after a crisis and 25.7% confess to posting negative content about their current workplace.
Those of university age are more concerned with how their digital footprint affects their reputation at work compared to older generations. Of those aged 16-24, 31.4% agree that social media content is important to their career prospects, compared to 24.6% of those aged 35-44. Of those aged 16-24, 41.1% are very careful about social media content they post and are tagged in, as compared to 35.6% of those aged 45-55. Despite this, Indians still have a lot of unsavoury content on their current social media channels, which is NSFW (Not Safe For Work).
Top 10 NSFW posts Indians are most embarrassed by on their social media:
- Comment that can be perceived offensive (e.g. insulting someone, criticising someone’s appearance or controversial views)
- Wearing an embarrassing outfit
- Places or events in which I am identified, and I am ashamed to have gone
- In a fight
- Wardrobe malfunction e.g. zip accidentally undone, low-riding top/trousers
- Sleeping somewhere I shouldn’t e.g. bar, pavement, field
- Drunken behaviour
- Kissing someone I shouldn’t have been
As well as being cautious about posted content, people need to take a closer look at privacy settings on their social media profiles to prevent the wrong people from stumbling across damaging and personal content. Shockingly, 25.3% admit they have no idea how to change their privacy settings on social media and over a third (33.7%) say they haven’t done anything to change privacy settings despite knowing how to. This is especially important considering that 21.2% know someone whose career or job prospects have been negatively affected by social media content they’ve posted, or been tagged in, and 40% even admit they could lose their job over their social media content.
As well as the potential to hurt career prospects, relaxed attitudes to social media could be leaving the door open for cybercriminals. Considering how much personal information and images social media accounts hold, it’s concerning that 14.9% say they don’t know how to close down their inactive accounts and a third (24%) don’t know the passwords or no longer have access to the email addresses they used to set them up – effectively locking them out.
Venkat Krishnapur, Vice-President of Engineering and Managing Director, McAfee India comments “Now, more than ever before, we need to be mindful of how we represent ourselves online. It is important to indulge in sharing content that paints you in a professional and positive light and avoid posting any content that can tarnish your professional image. We have all seen high profile celebrities and public figures whose objectionable social media posts have emerged light years later, damaging their reputation, but this issue can affect anyone.
Consumers must conduct regular digital health checks on their social media accounts – personal and professional. A large number of people have inactive social media accounts, leaving personal information and embarrassing or incriminating old photos and posts on display to potential employers, or worse, cybercriminals looking to harvest personal data.
Giving your social media accounts a routine clean-up can minimise the negative impact on corporate reputation. Consumers also need to ensure that they increase privacy settings on active accounts and shut dormant accounts, so information doesn’t get into the wrong hands.”
McAfee Head of Cyber Investigations, John Fokker’s top tips on how to protect your professional image online:
- Give your digital past a clean-up. Make sure your unused social media accounts and unwanted tags in comments and posts are deleted so they don’t come back to haunt your personal or professional life.
- Always set privacy and security settings. Anyone with access to the internet can view your social media if it’s public, so turn your profiles to private in order to have control over who can see your content. This can also give you greater control over what people can tag you in.
- Never reuse passwords. Use unique passwords for each one of your accounts, even if it’s for an account that doesn’t hold a lot of personal information. To help manage all your passwords, look for a security software that includes a password manager.
- Think before you post. Prevention is always better than cure, so think twice about whether or not your posts could impact yourself or someone else negatively and whether or not your personal information could be getting into the wrong hands.
- Employ extra protection across all your devices. Comprehensive security software can protect you from several threats such as viruses, identity theft, privacy breaches, and malware designed
McAfee commissioned 3Gem to conduct a survey of 1,000 adults in India.