snapchat1I recently gave a presentation on social media to a local non-profit and had the opportunity to review some of the latest statistics when it comes to the use of social media.

Frankly, I knew that there has been a shift away from Facebook for some younger people but even I was surprised by the trendlines.   It’s happening much quicker and in bigger numbers than you might think.

And even more surprising, the big winner is: Snapchat.

Yep, the little app that I talked about in 2013.  (Think about how quickly and rapidly the technology has changed in less than four years.) Put another way, the disappearing social media sites that were just getting started are now big.

How huge? According to a new study of what social media sites college students use first, fifty-eight percent of college students said they open Snapchat first, compared with 27 percent who chose Instagram, 13 percent who said Facebook and the 2 percent who opt for LinkedIn.

Another recent survey by Pew Internet found that 56 percent of smartphone users between 18-29 years old use auto-delete apps like Snapchat. That is more than four times the share of users between 30-49 years told.

(Teen usage is even higher with Facebook as the fourth most popular app, behind Snapchat, Instagram & Twitter, according to a Piper Jaffray Fall 2016 study.)

Let’s not, however, write off Facebook just yet.  A whopping 79 percent of online users are still on Facebook.  But these overall statistics show that Facebook has lost it’s exclusive hold on younger online users.

From an employment law context, this continues to cause all sorts of headaches.

With disappearing snaps, for example, it can be difficult for employers to track down and monitor harassment in the workplace. (The fact that some Silicon Valley companies are under scrutiny is perhaps not that surprising, if still disappointing.)

And when it comes to document retention, in the case of a lawsuit, apps like Snapchat are a challenge as an employer tries to preserve relevant information.

For employers, I think it’s important to recognize that we’re in the next generation of social media apps.  If you’ve just caught up to Facebook, you’re already behind the curve.

What may be next? That’s hard to predict.  Some teens I know are using apps like Musical.ly to share content.    (Never heard of it? Well, over 100M users are on it.)

Other types of live broadcasting apps, building off of Facebook Live, continue to grow as well.

Employers would be wise to expand their horizons. A broad social media use policy defining proper use when it comes to the workplace is still a key component.  While you may be on Facebook, the generation entering your workplace just isn’t on Facebook as much anymore.

Today, I spoke at my firm’s semi-annual Labor & Employment seminar on seemingly everyone’s favorite topic lately: social media. We had a huge crowd today and had a lot of audience participation.  I know I speak for my whole department in thanking those who attended.

One of the topics that several people spoke to me afterwards about was the notion of these new “disappearing” social media sites.  I touched on this a bit earlier this month with Snapchat — an app that allows people to send or receive pictures or videos that “self-destruct” after a few seconds.

But that’s only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Now, we’re starting to see social media sites that allow you to send “disappearing” messages and updates.

Take, for instance, an app called Ansa, which promises that you can “communicate off the record, so no trace of your conversation is left behind.”

Or a new app called Skim which “erases your messages as you read them… then they’re gone forever. With Skim, you can text your friends, knowing that it’s just like a conversation. No record, no regrets, no worry.”

(Strangely, both sites feature sample messages from an “Ashley” — might this be a clue that people named Ashley have a propensity to use these sites?)

As the founder of Skim stated in a recent article on Techcrunch: “Disappearing content is a growing trend, yet nobody seems to do textual messages very well. At Skim, we have a design-first mentality. Simplicity and beauty is incredibly important, but even more so is security,” said co-founder Jordan Singer. (h/t Ryan McKeen)

For employers, however, all of these new sites — from Snapchat to Skim — should give employers a big headache.  How will you deal with document retention obligations in lawsuits? How do you keep track of these? What if these sites are used for cyberharassment of other co-workers?

In today’s seminar, I discussed how there aren’t a lot of great solutions. The days of simply putting up a firewall at work at over.

Instead, employers need to survey their vulnerable areas, develop a policy, educate employees about the parameters of the policy and monitor how the policy is working.

Most of all, employers need to understand the scope of the issue we are dealing with today.  After all, college kids aren’t all on Facebook anymore — and neither are your employees.