Monday, August 8, 2011

Private Eyes: Protecting Yourself From Social Media's Prying Eyes

On Friday, gentle readers, your MatchGirl came across and interesting snippet on MediaBistro. The FTC has given approval for a new company that specializes in social media background checks.

As many of you navigate the current world of unemployment and under employment, job hunting and freelancing, you might have wondered how you should handle your online existence. It's part of the reason that, when your MatchGirl started this blog in 2009, I kept Unemployed Brooklyn anonymous. I was job hunting and I was worried that something I wrote could hamper my hunt. As time went on and I gained a bit of a following, and the economy remained in the crapper, it seemed silly not to allow my story to be covered and shared. So I happily shed the blanket of anonymity and put myself out there full force. Along the way, all I've been is me.

But that's not for everyone.

And, even though I am nothing but honest when I write online, I do still make sure to conduct myself with a certain amount of decorum. It's still a public forum, anonymous or no.

Tips for those worried about what others may find when they run a Google search:

That MySpace or Friendster account you created in your younger days - where you thought the bong in the background or the picture of you doing an (underage) keg stand were hilarious and harmless? Delete 'em. The pictures or the profiles, it doesn't matter. Even if you haven't logged on to those sites in years, the internet never forgets.

Set your security level to private. Worried that you may offend someone with strong political or religious beliefs. Worried that your personal lifestyle may not look too good to the CEO? Don't share them in a public forum. Put Facebook's security settings on their most private and limit your network to only those you know, who know the real you.

Keep Twitter toned down. I'm a big believer in Twitter accounts being open and public (though I understand that some people use them as they use Facebook, just to connect rapidly with people they already know), but if you are going to be open to the public know that, know matter how crafty your pseudonym, someone will figure out it's you.

Basically, dear readers, while living your life online, use common sense. If there's nothing bad to find, no social media background check is going to find it. It's that simple.

Any tips that you use to make sure your social media presence is squeaky clean? Leave them in the comments.

Awesome infographic about Social Media and the job hunt, via Mashable.

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