Posted by Brian McCullough
We’ve mentioned this before, but in case you hadn’t heard, the New York Times had an article this Sunday alerting you that social networking can be hazardous to your career. It seems that anyone can see what you post on your blog/website/Myspace/Facebook… and “anyone” includes your boss and co-workers.
Ever since the Internet came about, a favorite topic for journalists on a slow news day has been “the perils of the internet.” Apparently, some people can’t get over the fact that the web can be used for good and for evil.
Frankly, if you don’t know to be careful about what you post online, you probably shouldn’t be online. So the rule of thumb for dumb people is: don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your boss to see.
The incident the article highlights is somewhat ridiculous… A student teacher was fired because she posted a picture of herself in a bar, alcoholic beverage in hand, to her Myspace account. Clearly, there’s nothing wrong with that. She was of legal age. But at the same time, I know plenty of teachers who wouldn’t like it if their students saw them in a bar. It’s just one of those tricky social boundaries.
Maybe this is a generational thing. It’s not that younger people are more “net-savvy” so to speak, it’s more that the younger generation is coming up in a world where the web IS life, and life is very much lived online. The taboos, etiquette and hangups older folks have about privacy issues and online identity won’t seem like such a big deal to them. The article sort of bears this out.
On Dec. 16, the Pew Internet and American Life Project released the results of a study, “Digital Footprints,” showing that 60 percent of Internet users surveyed are not worried about how much information is available about them online.
The findings reflect a significant change within just a few years in public attitudes about privacy and disclosure. In an earlier Pew study, “Trust and Privacy Online,” published in 2000, some 84 percent of respondents expressed concern about “businesses and people you don’t know getting personal information about you and your family.”
So maybe in a couple of years we’ll have all gotten used to this sort of thing, and a new set of social norms will evolve.
Until then, don’t forget the rule of thumb: If you can’t own up to it, don’t post it!