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Thursday, March 25, 2010

You Posted That On Your Facebook Page?!

I read an article from one of my colleagues the other day, Kari Fairbanks, who wrote recently on the use of Facebook, and how a post that we might consider personal can cast a shadow over our professional lives.

She wrote:

“I joined Facebook initially to see if there was a way to blend it into the workplace. My friend list includes many company employees and competitors’ employees I’ve gotten to know over the years. I quickly found myself embarrassed and disappointed with many posts made by people I consider to be in a position of leadership.

Here are a few examples:”
  • “Tough day. No one listens. Cough, cough. I may be sick tomorrow.”
  • “Have worked 32 of last 36 hours. No respect and no appreciation.”
  • “What do you do when the execs won’t listen?”
“The second quote above was made by a competitor’s VP! Do you think he thought about the competitive advantage I have knowing he is overworked and feeling unappreciated?”

Kari also made it clear that while comments like these are harmful enough, they were hardly the worst examples.

In light of this, she wrote, “If you opt to tweet [on Twitter] or make posts on other social networking programs [MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.], consider the manner in which you are presenting yourself; especially if you have readers or friends who are your employees, customers, or competitors. Your statements have an effect on morale and – as in the case of the disgruntled VP – they can also affect our business and competitive position.”

If you don’t want to censor your own posts on a Facebook page, consider adjusting your privacy settings. There are a number of ways you can tweak the settings by page, status, wall, photo collections and even by category of friends. Check out this third-party link on adjusting your settings, or Facebook’s own user instructions here. (It’s important to remember that Facebook and other sites change their privacy policies and tools with some regularity, so check your profile now and again.)

If you don’t purposefully change your preferences, the default settings expose your posts to just about anyone with a internet connection and a basic understanding of search engines – they don’t even have to be a member of Facebook.

Social networking sites have changed the way we communicate with each other, and are clearly here to stay. But just because its’ “Social” networking doesn’t’ mean it won’t be used for professional reasons, and just because it’s a personal expression doesn’t always mean it’s private!

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