Should I Post It? The Online Content Sniff Test

Sometimes we post more than we ought to. Here are three types of content you might want to think twice about before making public.

Smiley Face Plate

Your content should leave people satisfied and happy. If it doesn't serve any positive purpose, why posti t?

Useless Content

Content you publish online should do two things:

  • Provide something of value to others
  • Provide something of value to you

Ideally, every single thing you post will offer value to others in the form of useful information, entertainment, an excellent recommendation, or a feeling of inclusion and solidarity. Before making a post, ask yourself: "Will this leave my audience better off, wiser, or happier than it was before?"

Also ask yourself what a potential post will do for you. Will a photo, status update, post, link, or video improve your reputation, help your career, or make you more likable?

If content you hope to publish serves neither your audience nor yourself, keep it where it belongs: locked securely within your neural pathways.


Though TMI could easily be seen as content that helps nobody, it deserves additional discussion. Though this might be news to many, not everyone wants to know about many nitty gritty details of your life- even if you are a beloved celebrity. If you're thinking about sharing content focused on:

  • Meals
  • Bodily functions
  • Random opinions
  • What you're doing right now (if it's not something enthralling)
... consider just keeping those comments / photos / clips to yourself.

As a general rule of thumb, personal content that is unoriginal, disgusting, or not particularly amusing (try to be objective when estimating something's entertainment value) should just be left alone (or posted under anonymous accounts).

Not-PC figurinesControversial Views

The internet is an excellent place to share controversial views, but sometimes little good comes from doing so. Before you decide to publish something really risky online (or even something innocuous that has the potential to be misconstrued as racist, insensitive, or mean), ask yourself if it might put your personal reputation or present employment at stake.

Self-expression is important. But so is the continued support and respect of one's fans- not to mention general respect and the ability to leave one's house without being glared at by neighbors and colleagues. If you really want to discuss controversial views online, do so using an anonymous account.

Illegal Activity

Speaking of content that might put one's job at risk, it should be noted that publishing content about illegal activity CAN LEAD TO YOUR ARREST. Be careful when publishing anything that might get you in trouble or lead to legal action.

Sometimes even something as innocuous as a negative review or risky link can get you in trouble. While you shouldn't avoid expressing yourself just to steer clear of potential legal troubles, you would be wise to only publish things that might lead to legal complications when they're really important to you.

Once You Publish, There's No Going Back

Though you may think you have the option to delete something after you have published it online, there really is no going back on what you have expressed once your content been made available (even if for a very short period). A tweet that is up for even five minutes can still be seen and retweeted by hundreds, if not thousands of people. The same basic principle applies to video, audio, posts, and articles.

In short, think twice before you publish. Once your content is out there, there's no turning back!