Every single person that I know has a Facebook, a Twitter, had a Myspace at one time, or is involved with some other Social Network in some way. Every single person. The funny thing is that it’s really not weird at all. I’m sure everyone reading this would have to think for a minute or two before they could come up with an example of someone they know who isn’t on some kind of network. Further, we all know that the internet can be dangerous, and that we need to be careful what we post and who we talk to. Why? Because the internet gives us a false sense of security and anonymity. When we don’t physically interact with people, we feel separated from them. We don’t really equate our real life selves with the friends or coworkers we see on the internet. It’s like a completely separate world. Except, it’s not.
Did you know that 45% of employers actually look at your Facebook page or other social networking site before deciding whether or not to hire you? And even more than that, 35% of employers who checked their applicant out on the internet decided not to hire the applicant because of what they found. Sure, thirty-five doesn’t really seem like all that many, but are you willing to take the chance?
Okay, so you’re reading this and thinking, well I already have my job so this is pointless, I’m going to keep saying whatever I please on my Facebook. You should keep reading. Ever heard of Stephanie Rice? This Australian Olympic gold medalist lost an endorsement deal with Jaguar for a very offensive anti-gay Tweet. And it’s not just celebrities either. Below are a few examples from www.forbes.com that show how a simple post about your workday can lead to unemployment.
An Atlanta police officer was terminated in December after posting sensitive information about his job on Facebook. Among his alleged leaks: his current cooperation with the FBI on a drug case; specific times when he would be working as a plain-clothes cop; and the fact that he was frustrated at work. The officer’s Facebook account was private, but that didn’t stop the department from booting him.
A Nebraska prison guard allegedly bragged on Facebook in February about smashing an inmate’s face to the ground. Soon thereafter, two more Nebraska prison guards jumped in to voice their support. The state was decidedly unimpressed. All three guards lost their jobs in March.
Dan Leone, a Philadelphia Eagles stadium operations worker, was unhappy with the NFL team’s decision to let Brian Dawkins, a safety, sign with the Denver Broncos. So Leone vented to his pals on Facebook, declaring: “Dan is [expletive] devastated about Dawkins signing with Denver … Dam Eagles R Retarted!!” He later deleted the post, but the Eagles fired him over the phone a few days later.
So you’re still in high school or college, and aren’t thinking about the job market yet. You’re totally okay to post those pictures of you drunk (underage, I might add) at the party last Saturday, right? You can always take them down later, when it really matters. Wrong! The stuff you post on the internet never really goes away, even after you delete it. And it’s not just employers who are checking your Facebook anymore. Twenty percent of college admissions officers have Googled prospective students, and twenty-two percent have looked the applicants up on Facebook. And sure, we all know that teenagers are still young and they make mistakes, but of these admissions people using social networks to research applicants, 32% said that they refused the applicant based on what they saw. Ouch. And if you’re planning on going to a professional school after college, you better start deleting your photos now, because 41% of Law school admissions officers and 24% of Business Schools Google their applicants, while 37% of Law schools check Facebook, and 22% of B-schools.
So what’s the moral to our story? Don’t forget that the internet is dangerous! Despite how much fun it is to show off your awesome new tattoo, if you don’t want your boss, or even your hypothetical future boss to see it, don’t post it! This kind of thing can really come back to bite you.