iPhone users may make most foolish posts on Facebook

18 May 2010

Despite the hullabaloo about Facebook privacy settings, it seems that smartphone owners are already their own worst enemies, making foolish posts about politics, colleagues and relationships via their mobile devices. iPhone owners, apparently, are the worst offenders.

Recent changes to Facebook’s default privacy settings are slipping users’ profile info to search engines, and newly proposed features are stirring up controversy in the US Congress, as well as creating privacy concerns amongst users.

Retrevo’s Gadgetology research into 1,000 consumers suggests that people were already getting themselves into trouble by hastily posting content that they find themselves regretting later. Facebook’s new privacy settings, Retrevo warns, aren’t going to help.

Hindsight is staring back

It’s tempting to let the ‘moment’ motivate a post that clearly steps outside the boundaries of good judgment. And it should be said that some things are better left unsaid or to be discussed in the privacy of your own home – minus the computer that resides there.

However, hasty posting is more common than you might think. In fact, more than a third of respondents admitted to having poster’s remorse and iPhone users rank slightly higher than other smartphone owners.

Are smartphones making it too easy for people to embarrass themselves?

“We live in a digital age where everything is expected to be public and instant,” says Manish Rathi, Retrevo co-founder and vice-president of marketing.

“Whether it’s pictures from your kid’s birthday party or your perspectives on political events, people are sharing their thoughts faster, and with a wider audience than ever before. Look at trending topics on social media sites like Twitter and you’ll find people sharing their opinions on everything from the Gulf Coast oil spill to (pop singer) Justin Bieber.

“Given the urgency and frequency with which people are expected to share, it’s no wonder some postings might later be regretted,” said Rathi.

Then there’s the aftermath, nearly a third of those who regretted their post say it ruined their marriage or relationship with someone or caused problems at home or work.

Then there’s the question of age, seeing that more respondents under 25 fell victim to their own regretful posts compared to their over-25-year-old counterparts.

My smartphone made me do it

Making technology mobile certainly creates more opportunity to post on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

Interestingly enough, the study found that more than a third of respondents admit to using their iPhone or smartphone as a computer substitute.

“Maybe people wouldn’t post as much if they only did it at home in front of a ‘real’ computer. It would be easy to lay the blame on the gadgets and skirt responsibility from the user, but as gadget enthusiasts, we’re unlikely to do that.

“The reality is that when it comes to removing your shotgun post that will more than likely cause you major headaches, breakups, or even job loss, these same mobile devices and computers also let you remove your posts just as easily.

“Almost half of those who said ‘yes’ to regretting their posts said they were able to remove it, thus proving that technology can save more than your data,” Retrevo said.

By John Kennedy

Retrovo poll

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years