Are you social media posts damaging?Social media has become a valuable asset for investigators.

Before you post that social media statement, meme, or commentary, be aware of the consequences. Colleges are revoking admissions letters based on social media posts, businesses are watching what employees are saying, and spouses are monitoring comments for information.

The New York Times reported in July that “at least a dozen schools have revoked admissions offers to incoming students” after they identified racist comments on social media. The Times goes on to note, “In this digital age, when social media posts can ricochet across the internet at furious speed, the message from those universities to the students caught posting racist sentiments online has been uncompromising: You are no longer welcome here.”

Repercussions are not limited to academia. Businesses are also watching social media, and taking action when employees post content counter to the values of the organization. In Crestline, Ohio, for example, three firefighters were terminated by the City Council members for what the mayor called “vulgar” and “disrespectful” recordings regarding the fire chief’s medical condition, which they then posted on social media during working hours.

Social media can be a treasure trove of information. Investigators love social media because posters often include personal details on social media that they would never post elsewhere. Social media investigations can provide details such as location, associates, friends, political views, social views, and many other important facts. They can even memorialize that embarrassing Saturday night or an unfiltered rant you forgot about.

It’s not only your actual posts that can be revealing. Comments on other posts or even “likes” can help investigators create a picture of you, causes and ideas you support, or people you follow.

Another source for information is posts others write about you. Friends and family can unintentionally create problems by tagging individuals in posts, or by posting photos not approved by the subject.

Even if you have deleted a post, an experienced cyber investigator may be able to retrieve it as part of a comprehensive background investigation.

What are you advertising about yourself?