The Perils of the Facebook Age
I noticed something the other day that further confirms a sign of the times. I have a Facebook social networking account (just like I have MySpace and LinkedIn accounts as well). For those unfamiliar with the mechanism of site, one of the features is the ability to “tag” one’s posted photos with the links to the Facebook sites of the persons in the picture.
So what was noticeable was not just the sheer numbers of folks who are in their late 20s and early to mid 30s who now have accounts. What I found really remarkable was that for a lot of posted photos on my account or my friends’ accounts, just about everyone who appeared in photos was “tagged” to their own Facebook accounts. In other words, a great deal of my friends who I see around (including many fellow YLD Executive Committee members) and are in photos with all are on Facebook.
Of course, the big problem with the digital age is that people can get a little too carefree about what is posted on personal sites without considering the impact. More and more, potential employers are “Googling” candidates and checking out what’s on their social networking sites. I have a friend pushing for a new job in the President-elect’s administration, which is using a pretty extensive vetting process. One of the much-discussed questions is whether a candidate maintains a blog, Facebook, MySpace or other related pages. Another one of the questions on the 7 page / 63 question long questionnaire that may impact a lot of folks is whether there are any embarrassing emails that exist from the past 10 years. I think most people I know probably would have something to report for that question.
Certainly, neither the maintenance of such a site nor the existence of such an e-mail would be an automatic disqualifier. And it’s hard to imagine staffers perusing every single site. Still, those of us out there who are young professionals who are interested in government jobs or even seeking other places of employment may be wise to clean up our sites of potentially-embarrassing pictures or posts (and request others to remove certain photos of you from their respective sites as well). For a more concrete example, see the discomfort that the future White House director of speech writing currently faces for certain photos. . .