Facebook: Your Public Face

With the number of people on Facebook nearly reaching one billion, it is very apparent how this social media site, as well as others, is becoming a big part of our everyday lives. There are many benefits to social media sites, including finding and staying in touch with friends, sharing stories, opinions, and ideas; as well as finding important information and future jobs. However, with Facebook becoming more widely accessible, all the information you post on your page is being seen by more and more people.

What you post on your personal social media pages can have unexpected impacts on your life. I remember when I was a freshman, I thought it was strange that one of my college’s residential coordinators was browsing Facebook to check on the students in his residence hall. Now it is common for authority figures, employers, and even university officials to use Facebook as a source of information about someone. According to the Huffington Post, near 40% of hiring managers use social networking sites when researching job applicants. An additional 11% are planning to do so in the near future. You may think that these Facebook viewers are looking for inappropriate behavior or posts, but some employers are even looking at spelling and grammar. For those of you who use Facebook as a venting source, it’s good to know that people have even been sued for posting “libel” comments about exes, coworkers, or employers.

Facebook users have not quite caught up with the new way social media sites are being used. A study found that British Facebook users averaged at 76% of their photos involving alcohol and 26% of all users allowed anyone access to view their pages and photos. Before you run off to delete those pictures from Vegas last summer, it may dissatisfying to know that Facebook has only recently enacted a program that actually erases deleted user photos, although it still takes up to 30 days. Even if the Facebook Company officially erases a photo, it is almost impossible to permanently erase something from the internet as it can be copied and reposted an infinite number of times.

Even knowing all of this, we shouldn’t go and discontinue using these social networking sites. As employers are checking out job applicants, they are also searching for new employees. We can use these social media venues to network with others in our career and hobby fields. As our grandparents begin signing in, we can keep in-touch more easily with family and friends. So what can you do to keep your Facebook past from haunting you? You can’t do too much about the past, but there is plenty you can do about the future. A good rule of thumb is to never post a photo or status update that you would not want your future employer, grandparent, or children (the future Facebook users of the world who will have access to everything you ever posted) to see. Remember that even with the highest privacy settings available, your photos are still accessible by thousands of Facebook employees as well as friends of friends through sharing and reposting. One final tip, never post both your exact birth date and place on your profiles. Identity thieves are able to read your personal info just as easily as friends and employers.

Are you going to start cleaning up your Facebook?

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