Having a social media profile can be likened to being on the reality show, Big Brother where every action or inaction is scrutinized by viewers but in this case, contacts (friends), friends of friends and other connections.
Let’s face it, we all have people in our friends’ list on Facebook that we have never met and never will in this lifetime. However, just by virtue of being on our friends’ list, are privy to a lot of what we are thinking, have been up to, and our position on various issues, unless our privacy settings are configured otherwise.
It is however becoming harder and harder for people to have complete control over their privacy on Facebook. Once you tag a friend, or a friend ‘likes’ or comments on your posts, that particular post becomes visible to the friend’s contacts through the news feeds.
Aside the unpleasant aspect of your life being laid to bare to people you may never even meet, is it just my opinion or there is a fact that the line between people’s social media and their professional lives is beginning to look very thin?
The first ever UK Youth Police Commissioner in Kent, 17 year old Paris Brown (ITV News, April 9, 2013. Time: 7:52) had to resign barely a week into her appointment following dissent over comments she had made on her social media profiles about two years before.
Should a teenager’s comments or posts on her page be used to define her character after several years?
(Photo credit: http://www.jeffbullas.com)
With employers and potential employers scrutinizing posts and comments made by employees, people seem to be growing jittery over intrusion into an area they consider their private lives. Private lives they believe should not have anything to do with their professional lives. People have certain friends with whom they speak certain ‘languages’ which may not be seen as necessarily appropriate in the world of work but once they are doing this on their private social media space, must it be dragged into their working life?
According to Harris Interactive, 37% of employers research potential employer’s using social media.
To ‘outsmart’ them, a number of people are turning to use nick names or different email addresses for their social media profiles so they do not come up in search by employers. Others are also creating separate social media profiles, with one for their ‘professional’ lives while the other is for their ‘personal’ lives.
Why employers choose to look at social media platforms such as twitter and Facebook to draw conclusion about a potential employee may seem unfair when there are other platforms such as LinkedIn where a person’s professional profile is available for checks.
The line has been so blurred that especially in advanced countries, people are now overly cautious of what they post, comment on or like and this I will certainly say, is not sociable.
However, if an employer who has built a brand over the years is taking the risk of employing a complete stranger, wouldn’t s/he be justified in ensuring that not only can this person fit in with the organizations culture, but that he is not into anything that will bring the organization’s name into disrepute?
Employees make the organization and are essentially an extension of the organization and should see themselves as brand ambassadors.
Forward thinking organizations make sure that their communication and social media policies are incorporated into the orientation programme for new recruits. It is critical for organizations to keep employees informed of such policies that essentially have connections to their lives outside of work.
Some organizations may not have a social media policy but from current trends, it is in the employee’s interest to guard their conduct on social media. As things stand, with or without your permission, a potential employer may snoop around on your profile so it’s up to you to tighten your privacy settings but with settings constantly changing on social media platforms such as Facebook, that will certainly give you lots to do because you will not want ‘Big Brother’ to keep watching. #prgirl233
NOTE: I wrote this piece in April, 2013 and posted it on my other blog. I believe it is still useful to in this digital age so why not share it here with you? Let’s live and learn.