MySpace & FaceBook Users – Think Before You Post Your Personal Information

Users of MySpace, FaceBook and other social networking sites should think about the content and pictures they are posting online. You are literally creating an online public record of yourself and your actions that more and more employers and education institutions are using to do background research on you.

A recent article by Matt Annerino at MTV News provides some much needed cautionary advice to young MySpace and FaceBook members.

From the article —

A communications manager at a reputable advertising agency admitted to knowing that her young staff, responsible for screening potential interns, was searching for Facebook profiles based on the names on submitted résumés.

“It came to my attention a short time ago that initial screenings were being conducted with the aid of Facebook,” she said. “While I initially thought this practice was unprofessional and immature, I was later impressed at the savvy of the staff in finding a new way to research candidates. We do ourselves a service when we learn about the people we’re interviewing. Sometimes a carefully and purposefully crafted résumé does not tell a full story about a candidate.”

However, Stephanie Corredino, human resources manager at Edelman Public Relations, is less enthusiastic. “I would have to say that it may cross privacy barriers,” she said. “There are laws that govern recruitment in that the questions and research conducted on candidates has to be job-related.”

Whether or not the use of MySpace or Facebook is an ethical way of learning more about a job applicant, the contents posted online still remain public knowledge and can be seen by anyone with a username and password.

A prepared statement from MySpace reads, “We feel strongly that a critical first step in ensuring users have a safe experience on the Internet is to focus on the education and awareness for MySpace users and the online community as a whole.”

A spokesperson for Facebook relayed similar sentiments, and pointed out that users can limit the number of people viewing their profiles through various privacy settings.

“To give our users even more control over exactly who they want to have access to the information, we have detailed options under the ‘My Privacy’ tab,” said Facebook spokesperson Chris Hughes. “The only way that potential employers or faculty or administration would be able to see students’ profiles is if the students themselves have chosen to share it with them.”

In other words, think before you post, and take the time find out exactly just how “yours” your space on MySpace truly is.