Facebook Could Ruin My Career?!
A bold statement, I know, but don’t panic. You can take charge of your privacy right now, if you know where to look.
Whether you are a student, graduate or current employee, your Facebook privacy settings could probably do with a spring clean. Most people are aware of the settings, but don’t really take them seriously. In fact, only 15% of students think that what they post online will affect their future employability. However, let’s consider a few Facebook statistics
- 45% of employers check Facebook when considering potential employees
- 82% of colleges use Facebook to recruit new candidates
- 39% of employers check their employees Facebook profiles
Have you ever considered what your Facebook profile looks like to the public? There is an easy way to check: log onto your Facebook Timeline page and hit the little ‘cog’ dropdown box (under your cover photo, alongside “Activity Log”). If you select ‘View As’ you will see what information you are allowing anybody to access.
If you were shocked by what you saw, this may be because all your privacy settings were automatically removed when the Timeline featured was rolled out.
Why Could This Ruin My Career?
As the statistics above indicate, it is increasingly important that you effectively manage the information that is available about you online. It is predicted that by this summer there will be 1 billion users on this social network powerhouse, and with such a low number of students believing that what they post online will have any affect on their future it is important to address this issue now.
Perhaps the most personal of social networks, over 47% of Facebook users surveyed included some swearing on their walls, and the majority of profiles feature photos that do not portray a particularly favorable impression to a potential employer. The amount of stories that have surfaced about people either missing out or being dismissed from jobs due to their Facebook profiles are numerous. (Here, here and here to name but a few!)
The huge impact that Facebook has had in the past 8 years is phenomenal, therefore in theory it should come as no great shock that when businesses are vetting potential employees this is often the first place they visit. This does not mean that you need to completely depersonalize your Facebook profile, just get a bit savvy with the security settings available and prevent your profile affecting your future.
An extremely important factor to take into consideration when looking at the information you freely share on Facebook is the audience for your posts. A handy feature of Facebook is that it allows you to select who amongst your friends you would like your posts to be visible to. For instance, when posting a status you have the option to make this available to different groups. Having an awareness of who can see what you post, and spending the time to go through your Facebook friends and decide who you want to see what will really help you become aware of what you say and save you from any mishaps with inappropriate statuses or photos.
In addition to any default lists you can create any custom lists ensuring your posts will only reach the right audience.
How Do I Make A List?
To create and curate your lists, simply go to your home page and click on the “Lists” button on the left-hand side. From here, you can sort friends into the lists already available and create more. (i.e. Professional, Close Friends etc) It is possible for your friends to be in more than one list at a time.
This list option allows you to not only ensure that you are preventing anyone in a professional capacity from seeing unwanted Facebook posts or tags, but also that your Mum also won’t be receiving any shocks in her news feed!
Where Are The Privacy Settings?
This seems like a very simple question but just to ensure you know exactly where to start you can access your privacy settings through the dropdown box in the top right-hand corner where you would normally log out.
You will then land on the privacy settings page. Before deciding on your in-depth settings, you need to pick what your default settings will be when posting from a device such as a phone. These devices do not run on the same privacy settings as a PC (i.e. they don’t have the inline audience selector to choose which lists you are going to post to). The best way to combat this is to select “Custom” and make a list of the people you would like to be able to access this information.
So How Do I Alter My Privacy Settings?
It is now time to turn your attention back to multitude of privacy settings you can implement when using Facebook from a PC. They are split into these sections:
Through these sections, you can customize whether Friends, Friends of Friends, or the Public can see your posts. You can decide who can find your profile and who can add you as a friend. You are even able to ensure that you can view tags before they appear on your timeline, giving you maximum control over what is visible on your account. In some sections you can only decide between a couple of options (i.e. Friends, Friends of Friends, Public, or Only Me). In other tabs however, you have the option to determine who can see certain content dependent upon the lists you have created.
Only the last option in ‘How to Connect’ allows customization by list. As a rule, for every option I would recommend selecting the most private setting you can; for example only allowing Friends to look up your timeline.
In terms of tagging, you are able to decide who can see tags on your timeline (again through your assigned lists) and you can ensure that whenever you are tagged you can review the posts or pictures prior to them becoming visible. Handy for any inappropriate or unflattering images that may crop up.
If you are anything like me, you will be very surprised to see the amount of apps you have authorised on your profile over the years! By clicking through ‘Edit Settings’ in the ‘Apps you use’ section, you are able to remove any unwanted apps and edit the settings of ones that you do want to keep.
The rest of the section allows you to control what information of yours people can bring into their apps. Importantly, this section also allows you to decide whether you want Facebook to be allowed to share your information with their selected partner sites. These partner sites wil be able to access information as soon as you land on their site to deliver you with ‘a more personalised experience’. You can disable this feature here if you are uncomfortable with this. The final ‘Edit’ option in this section (which is not visible in the screenshot) enables you to decide whether or not you want your timeline information to be visible in search engines.
This section is perhaps the most important regarding your past Facebook privacy settings. If before the Facebok Timeline update hit you had fairly stringent privacy settings that have now gone AWOL, your previous posts will all be visible. You can decide to limit all past posts in your timeline here, but if you go for this option, be warned – to undo this process would require you to trawl back through each post and them manually. If you do just want to limit all past posts however, simply use this button.
This final section allows you to determine who you simply do not want to connect with on Facebook. Restrict certain friends so they can only see your public settings, or block people altogether, meaning they cannot even attempt to connect with you at all on the site. You are also able to block app invites and event invitations here.
Further Damage Control Tactics
- This guide simply indicates how you can alter the settings, but as stated above, I would recommend trying to ensure you have the tightest privacy settings possible.
- In terms of the information that will be seen publicly on your profile, your cover picture, profile picture and previous cover pictures cannot be concealed, so make sure they are respectable! It would also be a good idea to have your current job title and a few responsibilities made public, just in case anyone influential does stumble across your profile.
- What email are you currently using, be that on your Facebook or just in general? Something like email@example.com doesn’t really create a professional impression. Obscene words will again not put you in the best light! Getting a new email from Google or Hotmail is really really easy and will definitely look better on your Facebook account or online application.
- What is your Facebook URL? If it is just a bundle of numbers, this can be easily modified. Simply head to your account settings and alter your username (this can only be done once so pick wisely.) This will just tidy up your profile and make you look more organised and internet savvy.
- Do not let Facebook ruin your chances of embarking upon your dream career, or lose you your job when you get it.
- Spend time sorting out your privacy settings and ensuring only what you want people to see can be found on your profile.
- Make use of your lists. Even if you are friends with work colleagues or your boss, using this feature leaves you free to post on matters that you would not be suitable in a professional arena.
If you have any questions at all please leave a comment below and I will help in any way I can.
This post is part of the Personal Branding Series, helping you develop a successful online presence.