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Facebook, Privacy, and Your Next Job Interview

May 19 2010

A word of caution -- the Internet never forgets.  Each of us carries a data shadow, whether on Facebook, Twitter, or in Google’s search index.  A good rule-of-thumb is do not post anything online that you do not want your mother to see.

A recent study showed that “77 percent of recruiters run searches of candidates on the Web to screen applicants; 35 percent of these same recruiters say they’ve eliminated a candidate based on the information they uncovered.”  This number has escalated in recent years.  Make no mistake, hiring managers will look at your online profile(s).  And so, a better rule-of-thumb is do not post information online that you do not want a future employer to see; the best advice being to shape, control and manage both how, and what you present online to the best of your abilities.

More recently a number of red flags have been raised regarding Facebook’s privacy policy.  If you would like to see how it has evolved the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) provides a nice summary, an excerpt of which appears below.

Facebook Privacy Policy circa 2005:
“No personal information that you submit to The Facebook will be available to any user of the Web Site who does not belong to at least one of the groups specified by you in your privacy settings.”

Current Facebook Privacy Policy, as of April 2010:
“When you connect with an application or website it will have access to General Information about you. The term General Information includes your and your friends’ names, profile pictures, gender, user IDs, connection, and any content shared using the Everyone privacy setting. … The default privacy setting for certain types of information you post on Facebook is set to “everyone.” … Because it takes two to connect, your privacy settings only control who can see the connection on your profile page. If you are uncomfortable with the connection being publicly available, you should consider removing (or not making) the connection.”

After graduating the World Wide Web will provide you with many opportunities to contact friends around the world, find people with similar interests, and grow intellectually.  These personal learning networks will even provide you with access to many of the leading thinkers of your time.  What information will you choose to keep public, or remain private?  How will you present yourself when I enter your name in Google, or the next application that has yet to be invented?

The library highly recommended that you fine-tune your Facebook privacy settings.  To learn how to do so watch this brief video:

Author: sebastien_marion