Social Networking – An Extension of You

By | August 22, 2010

Recently Eric Schmidt (CEO of Google) talked about the “Dark Side of Social Networking“. His view is one day people will change their names in order to escape the online persona they have created and he is right except that “one day” is really today.

Many companies are now checking Facebook, Twitter, etc. as part of the hiring process. Even at my job Facebook and MySpace is checked on potential hires.

So here are some things to think about when you create or post on social networking sites:

Posts Are Archived Somewhere
Recently the Library of Congress has started archiving all twitter tweets. This means that anything you say (at least on twitter) is accessible in perpetuity. So don’t post it unless you mean it.

Potential For Misuse
If I am the leader of a cult, a government radical, or if I have an alternate sexual lifestyle how does that affect me getting hired to an office job? I am none of those of course, but I just pose the question. Could they just pass your resume over if they see something online they don’t like and that you didn’t list on your resume? I bet this happens more often than not.

Rule 34
This kind of ties into the misuse section but there is a saying on the internet. It’s called “Rule 34” and it says that if it exists then there is porn of it. I wonder how many potential hires and employees there are out there that this holds true. How do you think nude pictures of yourself work for getting that job? Even if you get or have the job how serious is anyone going to take you after seeing the photos?

The answer to this one is just don’t post photos of yourself in embarrassing or compromising positions even if you think it’s a non-public area (facebook can and does get hacked). If you do have them on your PC get rid of them and/or don’t give them to anyone. This includes boyfriends/girlfriends. Nothing speaks revenge more than posting your nudes all over the place after a bad breakup.

Creating Another Account
Within the last year my job has opened up twitter to some of the I.T. staff including myself. The benefits of this I have posted a few months ago in “No I.T. training budget. Twitter to the Rescue!“.

However, due to the fact that I sometimes like to post NSFW jokes, family communication, family photos, and other non-work related items I created another Twitter account for personal use outside of work (@greeleygeek for work, @amidageek for personal).

In my view using my personal account now is no different than text messaging or making personal calls at work. Even this blog falls outside of the scope “work-related” in some posts, which is why I post on evenings and weekends.

Doing this has safeguarded any problems with posting questionable content at work and has effectively separated my “work online persona” and my “personal online persona”.

Be Careful What You Post At Work
You must be careful of the data you post because of trade secrets, private work information, etc. I see this becoming more and more of a concern of employers to monitor these areas and also many more people getting fired for sharing something they weren’t supposed to.

Too Much Information
Another danger is too much information. One of our friends has a teenage daughter that regularly posts her location on Facebook. “Home alone again. Popping some popcorn” may seem innocent, but a savvy internet stalker would have that address and be on their way. This is a why I suggest that you don’t  share your location unless you want people to find you.

Final Advice

  • Watch and think carefully about what you post on work time and/or accounts
  • Create a second account if you want to post personal items (non-work related) and post after work hours.
  • Do not post your location if you don’t want strangers to find you
  • Do not post incriminating photos of yourself online. They will be seen.
  • Remember. What you post could affect current and potential opportunities.

To wrap up here are some links of people getting busted breaking the above rules:

Guy calls in sick, but posts he’s hung-over on Facebook
Woman posts on Facebook by accident (NSFW)
How twitter can get you fired in 140 characters
Woman stalked on Facebook by ex-boyfriends other lovers

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