Since the explosion of social media across many popular platforms, freedom of speech has evolved. We are free to say anything to anyone at anytime without the fear of actually saying it to their face. In the last few years, cyberbullying has been on the increase with people, particularly teenagers being able to send nasty messages, believing there are no consequences for their words. However, the hurt they can cause is massive and with the advances in smartphone technology, those messages can hit teenagers anytime, even being at home, they will no longer feel safe.
Social media users and tools are getting better at finding the negative messages and alerting the authorities. It’s reassuring to know that a teenager posting negatively or offensively on social media will now be punished but the scale of the problem can be a lot bigger than one or two incidents. Recently Britain’s first Youth Commissioner, Paris Brown, caused controversary with her offensive tweets . Some of which were homophobic, racist and referenced drugs. She eventually apologised and quit her new post.
This is a clear problem for teenagers who have grown up in the digital era. They haven’t necessarily had much guidance from parents or even teachers about using social media appropriately. They have learn as they have gone along, probably knowing more about how the platforms work than the previous generation. Although, they do not necessarily consider the future impact of their current posts. Paris Brown’s tweets from the last few years were in extreme bad taste but many teenagers out there have said the wrong thing or posted embarrassing material about themselves or others.
Many don’t consider how their actions may affect their future careers. For example, a recent graduate applies for a job and is active on Facebook and Twitter. Without the right privacy settings, a potential employer can view all their content and may come across an embarrassing image of them from a couple of years earlier. An employer needs to consider whether this person will fit into their organisation and work within their team. An embarrassing old photo or post could give them a bad impression and force them to rethink their appointment.
If the graduate is still successful, they may be asked to tweet on behalf of the company. Businesses too have to take hold of their social media policy and strategy. This needs to be clear to their employees and many businesses are still finding their feet with social media. With clear objections and training for staff, the graduate will be clear on what is appropriate. Otherwise, they may feel that their offensive humour is a good voice of the company.
Social Ant can help individuals or businesses to understand social media from policy with employees to digital strategies for content marketing.
If you feel you would benefit from one-to-one support or would like to discuss your ideas before you implement them, Social Ant are running a social media surgery on 21st May in Edinburgh. Register at: http://socialmediasurgeryedinburgh.eventbrite.com/.