Poster's remorse common for social-network users

Posting a spur-of-the-moment comment and then regretting it is a universal theme among the Facebook and MySpace set, Retrevo survey finds.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Have you ever made a nasty online comment about your boss and then wished you hadn't? If so, the diagnosis is poster's remorse, and you're not alone, according to Retrevo.

Among the 1,000 or so people interviewed by Retrevo, more than one-third said they've had poster's remorse over an inappropriate comment they made on Facebook, Twitter, or another social-networking site, according to a blog published last week.

The condition was even higher for smartphone users and the younger crowd. A full 54 percent of smartphone users and 59 percent of iPhone users have felt poster's remorse, most likely because it's too easy to fire off a quick comment from your phone without even thinking about it.

By age groups, 54 percent of folks under 25, but only 27 percent of those over 25 have regretted posting the wrong comment, a sign that younger people may be more quick to share their lives (and inner-thoughts) in public.

Who has poster's remorse?
Who has poster's remorse? Retrevo

"We live in a digital age where everything is expected to be public and instant," Manish Rathi, Retrevo co-founder and vice president of marketing, said in a statement. "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...Given the urgency and frequency with which people are expected to share, it's no wonder some postings might later be regretted."

Making a controversial or private comment may be okay among a small circle of friends. But as Retrevo points out, recent privacy concerns over Facebook mean that your posting could end up finding a larger audience without you even knowing it.

So, has all this inappropriate posting come back to bite people? Almost one-third of those who regretted a comment they made online said it ruined their marriage or relationship or caused trouble at home or work.

Is there a cure for poster's remorse? Well, aside from actually thinking for a moment before you post something, both Facebook and Twitter do let you delete a posting--almost half of those affected by poster's remorse said they manage to rub out their comments. But no word on whether they deleted them quickly enough to keep the boss from learning just what they thought of him.