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Facebook - Beware...Not Just for Friends

5.11.2010

 

Social media has opened a lot of doors and changed and enhanced how we communicate with one another. We are now "friends" and "LinkedIn" with our childhood friends, extended and distant family members and relatives, clients and colleagues. We communicate our identity and "status" and recognize, appreciate, criticize and post pictures of our world, all on a web page. However, as wonderful a tool for freedom of self expression as social media is, it is also accessible and viewed by more than those who are our friends and contacts, including current and future employers.

Case in point. Our esteemed colleague, Pam Kutner, is leaving The Alexander Group to be Executive Director for Congregation Emanu El in Houston. In the application process, Pam provided references of current and former colleagues. In addition to the standard background check, her employer referenced Pam's Facebook page and found that she and Pam have a few friends in common. Instead of contacting present and prior employers, she spoke with the common Facebook friends instead.

One client and CEO of a global B2C company was surprised to find that an unhappy customer and friend used his Facebook page to complain about the company by sending a mass email to all of his friends (not difficult to do) complaining about the product and causing our client embarrassment.

What you post on your Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, or Blog pages will be or could potentially be accessible by your clients or your current or future employer. Before posting a comment, ask yourself if you would want your boss or future boss to know what you think of the President, what you look like in a bathing suit, that you are a fan of "it takes 37 muscles to frown but only 5 muscles to punch someone in the face," that you are proud of the tattoo on your lower back, or your propensity to express your feelings and frustrations with expletives. "No way will they be able to access data on my Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace pages" you think? Consider the following warnings I have received by several of social media friends in the last week:

On Facebook there is a new privacy setting called "Instant Personalization," which shares data with non-Facebook websites, and is automatically set to "Allow." Go to Account > Privacy Settings > Applications & Websites ->Instant Personalization and UN-CHECK "Allow." Please copy and repost 'cause if you 'un-check' this and your friends are still sharing info about you!

There's a site called spokeo.com-- -www.spokeo.com (which has nothing to do with Facebook) and it's an online phone book that lists your phone number, address, credit score, profession, age, how many people live in the house. Remove yourself by the Privacy button on the bottom right. I personally checked it out and it is really there!! It even knew I was a LEO!

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter continue to be highly useful and effective tools for communicating and sharing data, whether it is of a recent vacation, your family, your animals, press release, or career change. And as we tell our older or not current clients, you are missing a tremendous opportunity to connect with old friends and and open doors to renew contacts who can help you in your career. Yet, the downside is that you must assume that the world can see what you post and respond accordingly.

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