Here’s How Snapchat Could Be Bad for Your Career


The average person spends nearly two hours per day on social media. About 30 percent of all time spent online is on social platforms. But, could all this sharing be bad for your career?

The dangers of Snapchat and other “temporary” social media apps may be greater than is immediately obvious. New research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) reveals how these kinds of social media apps could be professionally damaging. The findings might surprise you.

Temporary Sharing Causes People to Take More Risks

Part of the idea behind social media apps that allow you to share content on a temporary basis, like Snapchat, is that they have the potential to be less risky. Posts disappear after a fixed amount of time. This means that future employers, for example, can’t research a prospective employee’s old posts and find questionable content. And, this is true. However, this research found that the promise of temporary sharing actually causes people to take considerably greater risks.

In other words, when users know that the content they share will only be posted temporarily, they make riskier choices. However, the people who view this content still formulate negative impressions based upon these posts, despite their temporary nature.

“Recipients attribute these indiscretions to sharers’ bad judgment, failing to appreciate the situational influence—the temporariness of the sharing platform—on sharers’ disclosures,” the PNAS research states. “Sharers do not anticipate this consequence, mistakenly believing that recipients will attribute their disclosure decisions to the (temporary) platform on which they chose to send the photographs.”

“Uninhibited” Posts Multiply

Researchers found considerable differences between temporary social media apps and other platforms when it came to the kinds of images that people shared. In nine studies with 2,000 participants, researchers found that the likelihood of sharing something “uninhibited” more than triples on temporary sites.

Researchers classified images as uninhibited when they showed a silly or unusual face such as sticking out the tongue, nudity, drinking or drug use.

Bad Impressions Last

A lot of social media users think that it’s better to share images like this on temporary sites. In one of the studies conducted by PNAS and reported by The Ladders, 53 percent said that they would rather share a nude picture via a medium like Snapchat because it would leave a better impression than if the picture existed permanently.

But, researchers found that these folks may be underestimating the impact of these images. Observers of the questionable posts still felt that the sharers had worse judgment regardless of the medium.

Workers would be advised to keep these findings in mind when sharing via social media sites like Snapchat. It’s wise to take a beat before sharing content on any social media site, including temporary ones. Ask yourself how your post will be perceived in professional context.

Don’t act impulsively. It’s easy to make a bad impression, but it’s hard to reverse one.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever shared something on social media that came back to haunt you professionally? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.