Recent news has seen an unsettling trend in at least two states in the U.S.; employers asking interviewees for their Facebook login details, or requesting that applicants friend hiring managers so that the employer can find out more about them.
There’s no way to tell at this point whether this trend will continue. However, Facebook has already placed a statement about this practice on its site, and requests for further investigation into the practice have also been announced on the federal level.
In the meantime, users are wondering if there are any steps they can take to protect their privacy and hide certain information from possibly-prying eyes.
Making Wise Choices
As with anything you do online, you have to exercise caution with whom you interact. Just as in real life, it’s unlikely that you would just walk up to a stranger and start telling them your life story. How well do you know the people on your contact list? Can you trust them with certain information? Are there things about your life that are better off not being posted? These are questions that only you can answer, but all can directly affect the way a current or potential employer views you.
The option to tag photos could mean that your name becomes associated with a less-than-savory image that one of your friends has posted. But you can change who is allowed to see this information by reviewing your privacy settings for photos and videos. For example, you can tweak your settings for who is allowed to see photos tagged of you by indicating whether you only want some friends, all friends or just you to see photos you were tagged in. You can also limit who can see your past status updates and change the audience who can see your posts.
You can also choose not to use some of the features Facebook offers, such as the geolocation feature that allows you to ‘check in’ to locations. For example, do people on your list really need to know that you stopped off at your local burger joint for a quiet lunch?
If It’s Overwhelming
If you find that there’s just too much information to keep track of with your Facebook account, another option could be to create another Facebook profile solely for employment or business contacts. This way, you can reveal information that’s pertinent to your job hunting efforts and still enjoy the sharing of personal information with your friends.
Understanding Your Privacy Options and Rights
Facebook’s recent introduction of new privacy measures means that all users now have more control. If you haven’t yet taken the time to review your options, this could be a good opportunity to do so. Facebook has made it much easier to ensure that your information is revealed only to those you’ve decided to reveal it to.
But above all, realizing that Facebook is a social media and not a privacy tool is paramount. Think about it; the service is meant to keep people connected. So by its nature, Facebook isn’t private. Being aware that many people beyond your own contact list could see your information is one very important thing to consider.
Another is that the site does keep track of what you do while you’re using it. Facebook does this in order to personalize the ads it displays while you’re on the site. Recent news about a user who requested his entire Facebook history from the company revealed the above to be very true, and to a frightening degree.
Stop Misleading Information at the Source
When it’s all said and done, it’s what you ultimately post on Facebook that can come back to bite you later on. So why not get serious about your digital self? Check your status updates before you post them to ensure they include language that wouldn’t offend your grandmother. Use proper grammar and spelling, and think about the subject of your posts. Will they benefit your friends list in any way? Will they spark intelligent discussion, or merely add fuel to an already-unnecessary fire? Thinking before you speak digitally can help to avoid many future embarrassments.
Roseann Morgan is a freelance writer who enjoys covering a variety of topics, particularly related to technology and social media. She recommends www.internet-serviceproviders.com as an educational resource on broadband.