Facebook, privacy and employers: The battle is real
By Michael Melville
This the second part of a two-part article I wrote about privacy, employers and social media. If you haven’t read part 1 click here.
You no internet right!!!
It floors me that people do not have actual real working knowledge about social media, how it works and how to protect themselves in these situations. People complain about Facebook’s privacy settings all the time for the dumbest reasons and they are usually uninformed reactions to false rumors spread on Facebook by friends and family. Most people have no real idea on how to adjust them? Why? because they are lazy and don’t want to take the time. Why on earth anyone would have a public Facebook is beyond me and the people that usually do fall into two groups I think:
Group 1 are the stupid teenagers and people in college who don’t care about what’s being seen unless its mom and dad.
Group 2 are old people who have very limited knowledge about how social media works, how to use it and don’t really understand the internet or technology. 70-year-old grandma who has only been using the internet for 5 years decides to get a Facebook and is shocked when her identity gets stolen or when people she doesn’t know are commenting on her pictures.
Facebook’s privacy settings are not complicated and rather easy to figure out if you take 20 minutes out of your precious damn day. IF you don’t want to then don’t complain. Better yet don’t use Facebook or any other social media.
I’m not sure lifetime grocery store worker guy or truck driver guy care much about who sees their Facebook so this isn’t for them probably (AND NO I am not knocking those jobs or the people who have them). This advice is for the people changing careers, the eager beaver just graduating college and the people who are just plain stupid, gullible and paranoid. Its for the people who are looking to get into careers or jobs where employers might take the time to check on their social media.
Some people do want a certain about of public access on social media. I am a novelist and use many aspects of social media but I am very careful about what I’m sharing, where and with who when it comes to my personal life. Certain things are meant for certain audiences and people. So here are some hints I have learned over the years going way back to my MySpace days. Almost all of these I do myself and are very effective.
- Make your personal Facebook private – I think I covered this already. Its the best thing you can do.
- Make a Facebook Page (click like while you’re there!) – You can keep this clean and professional and even adjust it for what other people can post or comment when it comes to content. No swears? There’s a setting for that. Then if a potential employer or current employers asks to see your Facebook you can give them this one. Just don’t like Facebook pages from it like Bra Busters or Goat lovers since that can be seen. This page is meant to show the professional or PG side of your life. (I know many people, myself included who have had 2 personal Facebook accounts not pages which is another option)
- On your personal Facebook keep your personal info like Birthday, location, sex, sexual preferences and INTERESTS either private or for friends only (Yes there is a setting for this).. Current or potential employers already have this info for the most part on your application or resume. They don’t need it from the Facebook. Do you dress in drag on Friday nights? They have no reason to know this legally or otherwise. A potential employer doesn’t need to know that you like heavy metal and naked yoga. Are you 40 and do you still play video games a lot? You might want to hide that from public view.
- Pictures – Set them for Friends only or Friends and Acquaintances only. Some would say private but whats the point of putting them on Facebook if not for people to see them? I know I know what if someone tags one of your pictures. Well, there is a setting for that too so people cannot tag your pictures OR tag you in pictures without your permission. The only downfall is if you are really popular like me you will get a lot of notifications which gets annoying as hell on a cell phone.
- Friends– The more friends the more issue. It’s as true on Facebook as it is in real life. Having a lot of friends creates a wider net and harder to control information about yourself. Ask yourself how many of the people you are friends with on FB really matter, will they positively impact your life in a deep, meaningful or professional way. Do you really need to be friends with everyone in your family and everyone you know and meet? No you don’t. Don’t feel like you do either. I kind of feel like Facebook is for interacting with people you might not see on an everyday basis but that’s just me.
If you are 40 do you really need to be friends with someone from high school you have only seen 3 times 20 years? College students do you really need 4,000 friends? NO you don’t and you don’t need to be friends with that guy you met at a party 1 time and got drunk with. Don’t give me that frat boy professional NETWORKING line either. Commenting on pictures isn’t professional networking. Posting pictures from the bar isn’t professional networking. Posting sometimes hilarious meme’s is NOT professional networking and trolling on anything is not professional networking. There are ways to network on Facebook and social media but the people who know how to do that right already are so I don’t need to educate people on it. Why? Because most likely they already know how to keep themselves out of trouble on social media #educated START THE PILLAGE AND UN-FRIEND. DON’T FEEL BAD ABOUT IT.
I am only friends on Facebook with people whose phone numbers I have IN MY PHONE, work with and talk to at least once every other month. There are a lot of family and friends I am not friends with. They are not bad people and I don’t dislike them…usually…but if I don’t talk to them enough or hear from them periodically then they are just clutter on my Facebook or Twitter. I am not a fan passive people on social media.
Friend’s lists are one way that potential employers can get information without someone realizing it.
IF an applicant’s Facebook is private they will often check their friend’s lists and see if they have any mutual friends. Then they will ask those friends about the applicant. The easy way to get past this is make your friend list private so it can’t be searched. (This also helps if you have psychotic ex’s like I do.)
- Categories– Categorize your friends once you have deleted the unnecessary friends and family. Put them in categories like Close Friends, acquaintances, and family or whatever. Then can specify what category of friends who you do and don’t want to see a post or whether a post is private or not. This works on FB platforms whether you are using a laptop, mobile or tablet. Then when you make a status or post a picture you can pick who gets to see that particular post or picture. Yes its tedious, yes it takes time if you have a lot of friends but it really does save your ass. Once you get used to doing it will be like second nature. This removes the need for another Facebook page I think. I’m am really surprised at the amount of people who don’t use this privacy feature.
- Make your Facebook unsearchable– This means when someone searches for you on Facebook your profile won’t show up at all…NOTHING. This again is also in the privacy settings. On a Google search, it will only show as a ghost account. No picture, info…nothing. Facebook must be Private also.
- Twitter – This is actually where a lot of people get into trouble. It’s easy to type out 140 silly letters while watching TMZ, The Bachelor or Game of Thrones that you think will mean nothing to anyone. Its even easier to have that post be taken out of context or used against you. My advice: Again keep your Twitter private or have 2 accounts. Use one for the general public my book stuff and the other for close friends that you trust and know well; in other words real life friends. 1 public 1 private it’s really easy. I have 3 twitter accounts: 1 primarily for writing which I use a lot and two more (which are private) that are for close friends and some family. Got to have that mom safe twitter lol.
- All that Social Media – I know it’s cool to have the newest and trendiest social media all but it’s really more harm than trouble and trends where off. I social app might seem cool when you get it but a month later you are hardly using it. Really think about whether you need 10 social media sites professionally or personally. LinkedIn is a waste of space and time unless you pay for higher features. All those dating apps you have linked to your Twitter or Facebook could get you in trouble.
- Private – Unless you really want to grow an audience on your social media for professional reasons keep things like Instagram and Twitter private.
- Block – Block anyone you don’t want to have access to your info. You might be thinking, “If my account is private why bother?” Here is why. Say you have a crazy ex who threatened your kid like I do or a nosy boss but you have mutual friends with them. If they are not blocked they can see the comments and pictures you make and share on your mutual friend’s Facebook statuses. If they are blocked they can’t see shit. Now, on Twitter if you make a status on your private account then it cannot be retweeted. So your friend Bart can like the update but cant re-tweet to his own followers.
I could be missing something or there may be a better way of doing things. So if you know of a way to make life easy and relatively private on the good ol social media leave a comment please
A little legal stuff
Closing message about employers
You’re intimidation tactics are cute and even entertaining but people like me see through them and are well aware of them and soon they will be illegal. What’s more is people like me are not afraid of them and we try to educate people on why they shouldn’t be either. We know many people are gullible and they are ones who fall for your games. According to a recent poll by CNN 1 out of 4 Facebook users lie on their personal Facebook accounts. This means everything from personal information to status’s so your need to check people out via their Facebook accounts is largely futile and pointless not to mention a waste of your time. So who are the dumb ones? Facebook and Twitter are masks for most people; it’s a break from their real life. It’s a place where they can explore the grey areas of who they are and say the things they normally would not out loud.
What did you do before the internet and social media became prevalent? Did you follow applicants around to bars or coffee shops? Did you follow them to their homes, schools and college campus trying to dig up dirt on every single employee or potential employee’s personal life? Did you bug their phones to make sure they didn’t say anything bad about the company? Of course you didn’t because that is stalking, an invasion of privacy and illegal so what makes you think you have the right to access that life and information now because it’s become largely digitized? You don’t!
Try giving someone a job based on their resumes, references, abilities and not data mining their social media looking for personal flaws or things you might finally personally repugnant that have nothing to do with ability and talent…