Chances are good that you’ve heard the stories about teachers losing their jobs over a ‘scandalous’ photo on their Facebook profile or posting nasty comments about students and their parents. Whether or not you agree with decisions these administrations made, you might be surprised to find out just how much hot water your social media presence can get you in.
Privatize Your Profile – There are a number of steps you can take to make your Facebook profile less visible to the outside world. Utilizing the Facebook list feature is a great place to start. If you’re the type to post a thought or opinion as soon as it occurs to you, consider using this feature to make sure your posts are only seen by the people you don’t mind seeing them. There might be something you really want your sorority sisters seeing, but is probably a bit crass for Grandma (don’t tell me you forgot she was on your friends list!). But don’t think that gives you license to spout anything you feel. Gossip still travels the old-fashioned way too! Making sure your profile privacy settings are up to date is super important too!
You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth?! – It would be hypocritical of me to admonish the use of crass language…but using profanity in social media is something employers do find fault with. It’s not that they don’t know you have a life and personality outside of your professional 9-5er, they just don’t want to see it blasted all over the web. This goes for status updates and comments not just on Facebook, but blogs, articles, online reviews, etc. If you are posting something nasty online, even if you’re not using your real name, there’s always a chance of someone stumbling across it. And don’t forget, just because you’re not ‘friends’ with your boss online, that doesn’t mean your friend or coworker isn’t, so that snarky comment you just made on Jane from accounting’s wall about how much you’re dreading going into the office on Monday might not be your best idea ever.
There’s No Going Back – The internet is a curious thing, so fleeting, yet so permanent. The way we communicate virtually instantly across the globe makes the world feel like it’s spinning faster and stories and information seem to be buried quickly. However, keep in mind that things can reappear just as quickly as they vanish! Just look at these deleted Twitter posts that have subsequently been dug up and displayed for all the world to see. Essentially – you can’t un-ring a bell anymore than you can un-post something in cyber space (is cyber space still a thing??).
The bottom line – compose yourself online like you would in any public place. If you wouldn’t walk through the grocery store shouting obscenities and badmouthing your in-laws, why do it on the internet? Even if it doesn’t have a negative impact on your job, you still have an overall reputation to protect. For more information be sure to check out this infographic on how companies are using social media to screen employees and this article on getting fired for Facebook activity.