Is your online past coming back to haunt you?

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This week has seen MP for Sheffield Hallam, Jared O’Mara, suspended for comments made over decade ago. This raises the question whether the development of social media has led to the online past being an ever-present feature of the public’s lives.

Labour MP Jared O’Mara has been suspended from his party after it was claimed online that he had made misogynistic and homophobic comments between 2002 and 2004. The Labour Party had been under pressure to suspend the MP after the first wave of claims, however they had backed O’Mara publicly until a second set of claims were made. Since then, he has been suspended whilst the party investigates further and comes to judgement.

Implications for you in your online past?

These allegations beg the question on whether we all have content online that could come back to, in true seasonal fashion, haunt us. It may not seem apparent that content associated with the average citizen online has the capacity to be harmful to others. But, can we say for sure that none the online presence is controversial?

For Jared O’Mara, his online content could lead to him losing his job and facing an uncertain future. No one would aim to join him in that. So maybe we should all be taking a trip down memory lane to remove any potentially harmful content?

For most of us, there won’t be much content which could considered in this way. Although it raises the wider issue of what we post to social media. With employers having ready access to our profiles should we be filtering our content from the first moment we step into the world wide web? We wouldn’t want our prospective employers to be put off by content we shared or were tagged in several years ago would we?

If we were hiring…

However, we still must ask ourselves that, if we were ever in the position to hire someone, would we use social media profiles and other online past to discern between two candidates?