If you saw you on facebook would you give you a job?
This post may appear more relevent to the students who occasionally look at my blog or who will find their way to this post via Twitter. In fact it was a chat with some first-year students that prompted the post and this link to a guide for setting your profile on Facebook, which I thought would be useful. But I think there is a broader issue.
My point to them was that their Facebook profiles where often not the best advert for them. That wasn’t a reflection on them at all. Just that** some people don’t use Facebook as a social network. They use it as a way to ‘use’ those social networks and the information they generate**. That could be a prospective employer or, to be honest, a journalist stacking up a story.
One student said they planned to delete their profile before they began applying for jobs, whilst others claimed that their profiles where already secure. But many were unaware that Google can search Facebook (and does a pretty good job of it) and that the privacy settings could be tweaked to the level they could. This is before you get in to a discussion about whether you really can delete anything on the web.
But the point, and here’s the wider issue, was not the appropriateness of the profile. It was that Facebook is a public facing service and as someone who plans to be in the public eye as a journalist, you should exercise some control over your professional image online just as you would offline.
The idea of public/private persona is not just limited to Facebook. Dilyan Damyanov asks a similar question in his post “Should professionals have separate work accounts on Twitter?” which replays a twitter debate about the much mentioned Twitter outburst by David George-Cosh. Like Dilyan, I’m looking forward to Mark Comerford’s take on this.
Update: Just caught up with Mathew Ingram’s take on this
My first years are setting out on the what I call the change from “poacher to gamekeeper”. They know how to take what they want from the web as consumers but now they are working to another standard (I’ll avoid the word ethic there). Alf Hermida’s recent article underlines why this is important.
But they are not alone. There are hundreds of journalists moving online and whilst we explore this new media (or whatever we end up calling it) we all need to think about what trail we leave.