I joined social media a little bit later than most of my peers, around the time that MySpace was on its way out and Facebook was on its way in. Initially, I resisted. When I started college, however, it quickly became clear that Facebook was a necessity. I don’t use the term lightly, and my assertion is backed up by a recent Pew Survey that found Facebook users have more real-life friends than non-Facebook users. Shortly after I joined Facebook, it seemed like social media exploded. Blogs, Twitter accounts, Pinterest…the list goes on. And on. And on. Obviously it’s almost impossible to totally keep up with all the new trends. At a recent department speaker series on finding jobs after a graduate degree, one presenter said her best piece of advice was to make a LinkedIn account, a Twitter account, and get a significant professional online presence.
I cringed. As much as I like using social media for business purposes (after all, I maintain this blog and a Twitter account, which is admittedly not very active as I’m still trying to figure out the appeal), I hate using it for social purposes. And perhaps my fears are becoming more relevant. A friend who was recently interviewing for a position was asked for his Facebook username and PASSWORD, so that his potential employer could log on to his account and check out what kinds of things he was posting, liking, and what kinds of things his friends were posting and liking. This isn’t an isolated incident, either. More and more employers are requesting this information as part of a standard interview process. While in the past social media users were told to keep accounts private, giving a potential employer free access to your account negates any privacy settings.
It’s enough to make anyone who might ever consider getting any kind of a job cringe. So what do you do? It’s no longer enough to tell people to set privacy settings to their maximum, and it may not be realistic to ask people to disconnect from social media entirely. My friend, luckily, got the job without a problem. While I may have started this post out with the intention of giving some solid advice for social media management, I’ve ended more uncertainly than I began. The only rule I now try to follow is the idea that nothing on my social media sites are private, not matter how strictly my privacy settings are set.
How do you manage your social media presence as monitoring becomes more invasive and pervasive?