Our most intimate thoughts reside in the deepest corners of our hearts where no one can see. Yet, we update our statuses on Facebook daily for everyone to view, future employers included.
In recent weeks, Facebook changed its termination policy. The switch meant that the company could keep a user’s uploads forever, even if that user deleted the account. User protests and petitions ensued, and Facebook has since vowed to take even stricter precautions to keep users’ information safe.
As if that matters.
I hate to break it to you, but we’re all going down on this social ship.
As I scoured through tagged photos with beer cans, lazy eyes and open-mouths-with-food snapshots, I came to the realization that every picture I’ve posted, every note I’ve written and every group I’ve joined is forever encrypted in the mysterious Internet abyss.
If employers want to check you out, they very well could have snuck in through a mysterious friend request you accepted out of habit. This is particularly important for college kids propelling themselves into the workforce.
Linda Lawton, associate director of the Career Center, warns Facebook users that employers are most certainly using social networking sites as a means to weed out candidates.
“While a crazy picture at a wild party doesn’t make you a bad person and doesn’t mean that you will not be able to carry out the mission of the organization – it’s just a snippet, but that one picture and comment could cost you,” Lawton said.
Chances are that crazy picture is probably already gracing someone’s computer desktop or tucked away in a virtual folder. It’s pretty scary stuff, but should we be frightened?
It’s possible that as the subjects of our generation turn into the nation’s professionals, we’ll be so used to inappropriate pictures that we won’t think twice about seeing a throwback picture of a presidential candidate playing beer pong in his college days. Instead, we’ll sigh wistfully and remember the good times.
Realistically, we live in a world full of judgment. We’ll never separate the personal from the professional. Now we have the resources to save, crop and post evidence of that judgment worldwide.
“Even if in this generation, it becomes a little less taboo to see a politician with a beer can,” Lawton said, “there’s always going to be a requirement and a need to look at what people do during off hours.”
So what do we do now that we’ll all be undoubtedly blackmailed in the future? We can’t do anything about the past, but we can start behaving as if we’re not BFFs with all of Philadelphia’s Facebook users and self-censor the content we post.
Or, as junior history and secondary education major Hilary Auker suggests, “Maybe I’ll just switch to MySpace.”
Leah Mafrica can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.