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Election Aftermath: Social Media's Permanent Record

Blog Team • November 28, 2016

The 2016 Presidential election is, at long last, one for the history books. Most observers agree the campaign was unlike anything to come before it. That’s particularly true when it comes to social media. From the predawn tweets of Donald Trump to the Facebook posts of Hillary Clinton, social media played an unprecedented role in the campaign.

In spite of recount talk, the dust is slowly beginning to settle. For Donald Trump supporters, there are great expectations. Hillary Clinton supporters, meanwhile, feeling dazed and confused, are headed back to the drawing board. But people on both sides may have some Online Reputation Management issues to consider.

Historians tell us that as wild as the campaign was, it pales in comparison to the 1836 election. That’s when Martin Van Buren defeated not one, but four candidates from the newly-formed Whig party, to become the eighth president of the United States.

Yet the 2016 race polarized the American electorate as never before, in some cases straining relationships to the breaking point.

Fortunately for us all, democracy in the United States is nothing if not resilient. The mood of the nation may be uneasy, but we are still moving forward.

A Veritable Bloodbath

All of that harsh social media rhetoric had a divisive influence on the election. It may have been felt the strongest among voters; there was a veritable bloodbath of social media unfriending.

No one was immune: not family members, not people who had known each other for years and were friends offline – at every level, people cut ties with those who favored the other candidate.

About the only thing most voters agreed on was that social media channels grew increasingly hostile as the campaign progressed. And there was plenty of blame to go around. “There was far too much overreaction, on both sides,” one man told a reporter in Chicago.

Permanent Record

There’s a funny thing about social media: posts can take on a life of their own. What you may have posted about a candidate in 2016 can live long after the campaign season, and affect your online reputation for years to come.

Blogger Jamie Gordon observed that social media is a new kind of permanent record. “I am willing to bet money,” she wrote, “that in another twenty years, we will all be able to start purchasing our social media autobiographies – so we can show our kids and grandkids exactly who we were ‘when I was your age.’”

In other words, social media posts can last forever – or at least, for a long, long time. They can affect your personal relationships, college applications, and even your career trajectory. Remember those political rants you posted, in the weeks leading up to Election Day?

They might have helped improve your mood. But they could also be a ticking time bomb.

Some ninety percent of hiring managers Google the names of job applicants and check their social media history. What they find not only tells them how suitable you are for a job, but how you might fit into company culture.

Better Safe Than Sorry

With the election over, Online Reputation Management experts recommend that you clean up your social media profile. Remove posts, memes, or other images that might, in any way, be questionable. It’s best to err on the side of caution: if you aren’t sure, delete. That includes content that someone else created, but you re-posted.

You should also un-tag any images you’re linked to, and get your friends to un-tag you in their pictures. If they won’t do it, unfriend them. Better to be safe than sorry.

The immediacy of social media fosters a shoot-from-the-hip mentality, and we all need to resist posting in anger, or vindictively. If cleaning up your social media profile seems like too daunting a task, you can always get help from the experts.

The specialists at Massive Peak and InternetReputation.com are industry leaders in Online Reputation Management, and have the expertise to provide you with the positive online reputation you need.