Censoring Your Facebook?

Whether we get out this December or in May, most of us are pretty close to graduating, which means it’s about time for the coveted career search.  While the post-graduation job search can be brutal, especially in this economic climate where it seems many doors are firmly shut, we seem to have other factors leaning against us as well in the social media that we use. We’ve been constantly told that businesses use Facebook, MySpace, etc. in their hiring research and that we should make sure we remove inappropriate content if we have any.

However, in his blog post, Recruiters shouldn’t care about that Facebook picture of your beer pong game in college, Shel Holtz contends that this practice is becoming a litany.

“College is for two things: Getting an education and being stupid.”  Holtz says.  “The only difference between college when I went and college today is that there was no Facebook, or anything remotely like it, during my days at university.”

Well said.

While I agree that the large majority of people have done what others would consider “stupid things,” especially in a college setting, it seems the response from the “more experienced” generation is generally, “Well my stupid acts weren’t caught on film and broadcast for anyone to see.”

I guess you can’t really argue with that either (as much as you might want to).

There has got to be some sort of compromise in the middle.  I think we can all agree that people do stupid things, especially in college.  It’s where many people get to know themselves better, figure out their own limits, likes and dislikes.  So my argument would be: don’t reject a possible new hire with a great resume simply because there was a picture or two on his Facebook of him with a beer in his hand, but rather reject the one that has a whole YouTube channel dedicated to his alter ego that decides to find out how many beer cans he can crush on his forehead when he’s drunk.

I believe there is a fine line.  You can’t prosecute people for making minor mistakes in college, because the important thing is that we learn from them and grow up.  I would hope that we ALL have made mistakes, or else what kind of college experience did you have?

However, you CAN prosecute people for continually making horrible decisions or hiding who they really are upfront just so they can land a job.  Also, in defense of the opposition to Holtz’s point, I will say that you can’t argue with the fact that alter ego boy from above might not be the best candidate for certain jobs, and you might not know about that side of him simply from a job interview.

What do you all think?  Is it frustrating that businesses can and do troll social media applications to figure out how job candidates conduct themselves after hours?  Or is this a breech of your privacy?  Is it even a privacy issue if you have consciously decide to share these antics with your friends online?  Where is the line drawn?  Where do you stand on the argument of “to post or not to post” on your own personal slice of cyberspace?

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10 Responses to Censoring Your Facebook?

  1. bgansar says:

    Im going to go ahead and say that I believe your Facebook can be a good reflection of who you are. If you allow pictures of yourself passed out drunk then you obviously don’t care who sees them and might even be trying to look cool by thinking you are indiscreetly saying “yea I know how to drink.”
    I think it is fine that companies want to and do look at our profiles, they want to get to know us, see what we are like, do we have a personality or are we the same boring guy in the next cubicle. Now, not hiring someone because they have pictures of their self partying would be a mistake- this person obviously has a social life (can make and maintain relationships) which comes along with a branch of other personal skills. But please be my guest to skip over the resume of the girl with her head in the toilet.

  2. glindsay says:

    Great point, Brittany. I totally agree! I think it’s all about having tact. What about those who have pictures taken of them during there non-sterling moments and they’re posted on sites like TheDirty.Com?

  3. ecain says:

    I think that it is very frustrating that business can essentially stalk you to see what you tweet or what pictures are posted of you. In some ways I can see how this would be a privacy issue, because if they are not one of your “friends” then you probably do not want them seeing your page. However, I think that what is posted on your Facebook and Twitter is a very strong reflection of the person you are, and while it may be a violation of privacy, it is a good way for a company to get to know the real you. For the most part everything I post on Facebook, Twitter, or my blog is nothing that I am really ashamed of or something I would not show my grandma. In my opinion, the pictures of you passed out at bar or dancing on a table may be funny, but why do they need to be on Facebook? Overall I think it is great that we are learning now that companies do use the Internet and Facebook as a way to get to know potential employees, because many of Facebook friends have yet to get that memo.

  4. wwillis says:

    I’m actually pretty old-fashioned when it comes to this topic. Whether we like it or not, Facebook is a representation of ourselves. Employers have the right to not only google our names, but look at our social media sites. Be smart. Take pictures you feel represent who you are. But remember to be professional- lots of our peers in the PR world are also on Facebook and are always on the lookout.

  5. ekozak says:

    Those of us in college have grown up in the technology-age. We have access to vast resources at our finger tips, and we have also grown up with various social networking sites and tools (chat rooms, Instant Messenger, MySpace, ICQ, Facebook, etc.) that our parents would never have dreamed of at our age. But since we are all so accustomed to these online tools, we all know that what is put on the Internet is available for anyone to see. Years ago when Facebook was just becoming popular, I could not fault someone for posting pictures that might not reflect well, but now I think anyone who posts unflattering pictures of himself or herself is asking to be turned down for a job solely on the basis of his or her Facebook profile. I think most times what a person posts is a fairly accurate portrayal of their real life, and if I were hiring for a position, I would guarantee that the person I hired would positively reflect on himself or herself, as well as the company as a whole. Furthermore, once you post a picture, anyone can access that and use it to harm your reputation (i.e. Greg’s question about sites like TheDirty.com). My personal plan for Facebook: don’t say anything I don’t want my parents to see (because they are now friends with me), don’t post pictures (Photo Shop is VERY powerful) unless they are of my sweet and adorable nephews, and delete anything said on my wall that could reflect poorly on me.

  6. astrazzara says:

    As I was reading Shel’s post I thought he was making a strong point, one that we often don’t hear. The comments were a pretty equal mix of people agreeing/disagreeing with him, but that’s pretty standard because people typically never all agree. I think we should all be careful about what we post, we need to be vigilant that what we do on the weekend doesn’t carry over and affect our job.

    I also think it’s more than that because we need to be especially careful about people stealing our identities. A couple weeks ago in class, we were discussing the TV show the Bachelor, and how one of the potential bachelorettes knew everything about the bachelor before meeting him because she Facebook/Myspace him. If potential boyfriends/girlfriends are searching you, then you better bet that your employer will too. Everything we post is out there on the internet, so think twice before you post photos, and if you don’t like photos friends tag of you then be conscious and un-tag yourself.

  7. sferrer says:

    Whatever material Facebook users publish on their page is public. College students should be aware of the photos or information they have viewable to the public because it may be used against you. The downfall of Facebook is that it’s too liberal. We have control to post the material we want to share to the public. However, we do not have control over the material that may be published on crux blog sites like “The Dirty.”

    I’m very selective of the friends I choose to accept on Facebook, pictures I post and the information I provide about myself. I have to admit that I am very bias of the pictures and information available in the “photos,” “status update” and “about me” sections when I visit a friend or acquaintance’s page. If I am critical over people I am familiar with, I’m sure employers are just as judgmental or more when they search for potential new hires or college graduates. We can somewhat learn about one’s personality and whether he or she is the “life of the party” or a “conservative” from a Facebook page.

    Your own Facebook content may even make you. If you want to enter the entertainment/sports industry, pictures that show your attendance at a Suns basketball game or a 944 party may appeal to your employer and prove that you are advocates in these particular areas.

    For PR majors, we shouldn’t completely fear this practice and ban using Facebook because it’s a plus to have practice and knowledge of social media platforms. We have to be logical with our decisions and I personally do not want to miss the opportunity of my dream career because of a simple preconception picture.

  8. bjohnson says:

    I believe it’s just one more issue that we face because of the Internet. Who knows what future employers will be searching on us five years from now. Ultimately, though, I think it comes down to we as soon-to-be graduates should be responsible enough to search our Facebook profiles and delete any and all potentially negative content.

    We, especially as PR students, should understand that one’s reputation can easily be tarnished and it almost never returns to what it once was pre-mistake. Sure we are all human and as such we have fun and may do ‘stupid’ things. I would also add that some pictures can even create a visual that looks worse than what may have been going on at any event. I still think those photos or words should be deleted from our social media spaces that are shared with the world.

    I also think that the employer has good reason for checking out social media information on a possible new-hire because frankly their reputation is at stake and they surely don’t want a candidate that is careless enough to post scandalous photos or content for the world to see.

  9. ncano says:

    I have nothing to hide on my Facebook so although it’s set to private, it doesn’t matter to me. If a company is judging me based on a photograph that was take on Halloween, but isn’t seeing that I am qualified on paper with my education and experiences, then that is wrong. Because I am level headed and a smart person, I feel that I have nothing to hide because I know I won’t be on thedirty.com or that the pictures I have may have me holding an alcoholic drink, however, look at the date and see that I was of age to be holding that beer.

    I agree with you, that if a person continuously makes horrible judgments of posting inappropriate content online, then I can see why a company won’t hire someone even with all of the experience a person can have on paper.

    I worked for ASU with New Student Orientation and we weren’t allowed to post pictures of us displaying inappropriate conduct. I had a picture that i put of me holding a beer from st. patty’s day and had an email of my boss to take it off. Although new students couldn’t search me on Facebook, different people from ASU could and I was representing the school. So I understand that because even though I was of age to have that drink in the picture with me, if a Dean found me and saw that I was representing the school they may think I am speaking to the students about underage drinking.

    I don’t think anything is wrong with searching a new hire online and going off their Facebook, but don’t let it be the only useful tool you use to judge someone. Look at their resume, give them chances to display their professionalism in their work.

  10. bihrig says:

    The fact that a possible employer may not hire me because of something they see on my Facebook is nerve racking. Social media gives employers an opportunity to see who the possible employee truly is. Some people give off good first impressions and/or look good on paper, but they are really drunken losers hiding a dark secret. While the employer may feel better knowing more about the person they are hiring, I don’t think it is fair. I think as long as the employee is committed to the company and does their job, what they do in their personal life shouldn’t matter.

    Personally, my Facebook has a few pictures of me holding a beers or in a bikini at the pool, but nothing that should keep an employer from hiring me. On that note, a professor suggested to have 2 Facebooks. So, I now have my main Facebook that will not have my last name attached to it once I graduate and a more “professional” Facebook. Like I said, I have nothing to hide, but I don’t want to chance not getting hired because I have “questionable” photographs on Facebook. Facebook is defiantly a good reflection of who you are but who knows what employees will think of that Halloween costume you wore last year or Spring Break pictures from freshman year of college. Regardless of how any of use feel about the topic, when we put ourselves out there on Facebook we take the chance of people who don’t know us judge us by what they see.

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