Using Social Media Responsibly
By: Sam Crume, Summer Intern at Freeman+Leonard. Sam is a Sophomore Business Major at Fordham University in New York and is from Dallas, TX.
Imagine if someone could read minds. Think about the consequences of your peers hearing your inner monologue. What if our deepest thoughts were public information? Maybe you’re someone who has to bite your tongue every time you see a particular co-worker or your boss. Maybe you are a college student looking for a job and a certain professor makes you squirm. Maybe you had a rough night that you don’t want anyone to know about. Do you really want this information getting back to people you know? We live in a world of instant access to an infinite amount of information; however, your personal information doesn’t have to be among the masses of the internet. You don’t have to post inappropriate pictures or write offensive things, there is a choice to be responsible.
It seems today that everyone is using social media. According to Tom Webster of Edison Research, “51% of adults in the United States, ages 12 and up are using Facebook,” and Twitter has between 36 and 56 million active users. That’s a lot of people. Consider this; about one out of every two people have access to whatever someone posts on Facebook and about one out of every seven people have access to whatever is tweeted. Future employers, grandparents, parents, friends, and co-workers have access to whatever you do and say.
Think of social media as another way to build the brand that is you. What do you want a potential employer or recruiter to think you stand for? As a college student and intern, I know that every student is worried about finding a job after graduation. As a student, you want to have every edge you can possibly get. That being said, college is a time of change, uncertainty, independence, and yes, often stupidity. Just assume that everyone whom you know and will ever know will read what you post. Your future boss doesn’t want to find out that you made a racial slur over twitter, and Grandma doesn’t need to see the pictures of you and you’re buddies drunk at a party. You never want to forget that you added a colleague or superior and then made a rude remark about them. Think about the consequences of what information you are making public. In regards to finding a job, think of social media as another way to build the brand that is you. What do you want a potential employer or recruiter to think you stand for?
It is important to understand that you’re digital footprint can only grow. Once something is out there, it stays out there. Imagine whatever you do on the internet as a permanent tattoo. The tattoo might be under your shirt, but with a little effort, it can be seen. You may have posted something years ago, and that picture, tweet, or status update is somewhere out there. Whether you’re applying for an internship over the summer, or running for political office, your words literally will echo for eternity. Employers are now able to run background checks on individuals through social media sites. There is an entire industry arising to do background checks on social media sites. According to Jennifer Preston of the New York Times, “There is a year-old start-up, known as Social Intelligence, which scrapes the Internet for everything prospective employees may have said or done online in the past seven years.” According to Preston, Social Intelligence assembles a profile of everything you’ve done that meets the criteria of “racist remarks; references to drugs; sexually explicit photos, text messages or videos; flagrant displays of weapons or bombs and clearly identifiable violent activity.” You can’t clean it up. We must simply be responsible.
Social media sites can be an extremely useful tool when it comes to job searching. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will get your name out there, and help build networks.
Here are some guidelines that I like to live by when using the internet.
- Don’t post a picture or reference any illegal activity.
- Don’t post offensive commentary regarding any racial, cultural, or religious community.
- Don’t insult people in a position of authority. An insult to your boss over the internet is still an insult, and cause to be reprimanded or even fired.
- Don’t share personal information that you don’t want everyone to know about.
- Most importantly, don’t write anything that you wouldn’t be willing to say to anyone. Imagine that your grandparents will read everything you ever post and see every picture.
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