To Facebook or Not To Facebook

Facebook is a great way to meet new people, stalk your ex-significant others, and reconnect with people you never wanted to see again, but were too much of a wuss to deny their friend requests. However, the professional world has realized that since people are more likely to post juice personal details online than truthfully fill out that space where is asks whether you were ever arrested or made a total ass of yourself that time in Rio, it would a shame not to snoop on their prospective drones—er, employees.
This isn’t an entirely new phenomenon. People have been using the internet to spy on each other since mankind first realized the internet was useful for things beyond spam and smut. But Facebook and other social networking sites make it all much more easy. Who wouldn’t want a one-click path to a picture of you doing jello shots of a woman’s stomach during Mardi Gras?

George Washington fought off the British so you could document your trip to drunken excess and have the right to embarrass yourself. Never forget.

Sadly, the internet is rife with stories of people who have gotten pwned by posting stuff on Facebook (and we’re not just talking about the fake screencaptures they make over at CollegeHumor, either.) From having your party crashed to having your insurance coverage revoked (who knew a photos of someone being happy could hurt them), to getting kicked off a sports team, or having to apologize many, many times for expressing your desire to get laid, if you can get in trouble for something on Facebook, people have already done so. So don’t think you’re a trailblazer.
Of course, during job hunting people are actually looking for dirt, so your chances of getting fingered are exponentially higher. More than half of UK employers admitted to searching for their prospies’ Facebook pages, and more than a quarter of applicants weren’t hired because of what was found. In the United States, software is available to do this automatically, since apparently we Americans are so lazy we can’t be bothered to surf the internet and have gotten the computers to do that for us too. Think you’re safe once you’ve got your job? Not so fast—people have been fired for venting about their jobs, likin’ the ladies a bit too much in their downtime, and being a gay teacher at a Catholic school (no, really!)

If the above information wasn’t enough to stop you from poking that girl from way back in middle school (lest you be smacked back with a sexual harrassment lawsuit), criminals are jumping in on the social bandwagon. Data mining profiles allows scammers to create personalized messages that sound totally legit, unlike that money-stuffed Nigerian prince who couldn’t spell worth a damn. Hell, one escaped convict is taunting the police using Facebook status updates (as stupid as this sounds, realize that the prison released the guy during the day anyhow; there weren’t any Shawshank-style hijinks here.)
So what can be done? Facebook recently updated their privacy terms and controls, giving you increased flexibility in managing who can see what. The vast majority of content is pretty much available to every employer, significant other and creepy uncle with a Facebook account, so at the very least limiting access to just friends or friends of friends is a start. Not posting the pictures would also be a 100% effective way of making sure they don’t come back to haunt you (shocker, I know.) Until Facebook has the equivalent of Drunk Googles, though, the best you can do is wake up the next morning and hope you didn’t make too much of a mess.

6 thoughts on “To Facebook or Not To Facebook”

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