Safe Social Media: Facebook

Facebook LogoTo continue the Safe Social Media Series, today I’ll be talking about Facebook. Facebook’s ever changing platform caters to millions of people worldwide, is the 3rd most used site (behind Google and Yahoo!), is the number one social networking site in users and traffic, and is the number one place to share photos. Facebook connects people. Therefore, where Twitter is more about using your own discretion in keeping a good reputation, Facebook takes a bit more work.

On Facebook, you can create a profile with scores of information about yourself, update your status, add photos, videos, notes, events, join groups, and of course, connect with friends. There is a lot more to consider when thinking about whether or not you should post a thought, a photo, a video, a note, etc. The groups you join and things you “Fan” or “Like” say a lot about you. And, there are a lot more people on Facebook than on Twitter.

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The good thing is everything that applies to Twitter applies to Facebook. Think before you post. Control who views your profile. With Facebook’s Privacy Settings, you have fine grain control over who views what. Take a look at the options and learn your way around it. However, there is something that you must beware of on Facebook that is absent on Twitter: People posting directly to your profile.

True, people can @reply you, and say things about you on Twitter that may somehow be linked to you. But on Facebook, users have the ability to tag you in pictures and videos, post things on your wall, and do other things that will be directly associated with you. A lot of problems can arise from that. What if, for example, you call out sick to work, then go to a ball game. You make your Facebook status, “Seeing the Yankees.” Further more, you friend takes pictures and post them online. You’ve just been busted- and it could cost you your job.

Here is another scenario. You are away at college. You are 19 and go to party where (like most college parties), alcohol is being served. You grab a beer and take photos with friends, which inevitably show up on Facebook. You’re now tagged in photographic evidence of you drinking underage. And with more schools and employers using Facebook as a judge of characters, that can only mean bad things for you. So what do you do?

It takes some work, but learn to delete comments and un-tag yourself in photos. You cannot delete another user’s photo, but if you’re not tagged in it, your friends (or more importantly, employers) can’t see it. But I’m not advocating any of the actions in the above stories by any stretch. One reason is the delete and un-tag method are not fool-proof. Maybe someone in your social group took the pic and you have a lot of the same friends. That incriminating photo will get back to whoever it is you don’t want it to get back to. The best advice would be to not skip out on work when your not supposed to, and don’t do illegal things. If it doesn’t happen, there is no proof of it happening.

I’m trying not to be preachy here. Everyone makes decisions that are more fun than sound. But in the digital age, you will be scrutinized more for it, so you need to be more careful. And on Facebook, you need not only be discrete about your own actions, but you need to watch the actions of others. I’ve seen too many students get in trouble because of a photo that surfaced on Facebook. So to sum up:

  • Think before you post
  • Control the privacy of your profile
  • Keep close tabs on what people are posting about you (notes, pics, videos)
  • Be a little more careful with action you deem as….well let’s just call them lapses in judgement

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