Yesterday we published this story about some high-profile individuals who lost their jobs because of some unruly Facebook activity. If you’re thinking to yourself, “uh-oh, I love partying and taking pictures to post on Facebook, but I kind of want to have a job one day,” relax. You can have your cake and eat it, too. Just make sure you’re utilizing all the appropriate privacy settings. There are several steps to take to ensure your safety online, so just follow these tips!
1. Make all of your photos “Friends Only”
Tempting as it may be to leave photos up, it’s much safer to make them “Friends Only.” That way you know for certain who has access to your pictures. To do this, go here and under the option “Photos tagged of you,” click the drop-down menu and select “Only Friends.”
You should also do the same for Videos of You and all of your own photo albums (just click “Edit Photo Albums Privacy Settings” next to the”Photos Tagged of You” option). Even if you don’t tag your own photos, they’re still visible to anyone who has access to your profile. By making your photos “Friends Only,” you don’t run the risk of having potential employers stumbling upon that glorious shot of you flipping the bird while sucking down a 40. Which brings me to the next point…
2. Make your profile private (or at least disable some applications).
Everyone’s a Facebook stalker, no matter if they’re a potential employer or a potential boyfriend. So while it may seem appealing to allow Mr. Hot Stuff to view your profile and read from your wall posts that you had such a great time at the bars last weekend, you can’t trust that a future boss will have the same enthused reaction. And most Facebook users have their profiles set so that other people in their networks can see them. So if you belong to a regional network (especially in big cities like New York, LA, DC, and Boston), remember that anyone can join and belong to them, too. So to control what information people see when they search you, go here and under the options “Profile” and “Wall Posts” click the drop-down menu and select “Only Friends.” You should consider doing the same for your Basic Info, Personal Info, and Status Updates as well (particularly if you list under “Interests” all of your favorite rums…). Even if you have a tame profile for the most part, you never know when a friend might post a questionable comment or YouTube video on your wall. Better to be safe than sorry.
3. Choose your default wisely!
All of these new privacy settings would mean nothing if the Big Kahuna, your default Facebook photo, isn’t family-friendly. Save the sexy memories of Halloween (yes you looked cute as a hot nurse) for your newly-protected other photos, and choose a default that is flattering but not reputation-damaging. If the default-in-question features ANYONE (even if it’s not you) drinking, inappropriately dressed, making obscene gestures and/or alluding to racist/sexist materia, ditch it! Furthermore, make sure to go into your Profile Picture album and delete any questionable defaults from the past. If your settings enable anyone on Facebook to view your default when they search for you, it’s possible they can view any of your past default photos (since Facebook automatically saves them into that album).
4. Remove personal information that can potentially enable identity theft.
Being wary of potential employers isn’t the only reason to keep your profile clean. Identity theft is a real and scary part of the world these days–and most of the information used by theives can be found on a typical Facebook profile! Never publish the year you were born (the month and day is okay, but not foolproof), your address, and your phone number all at once. This information makes it much easier for scammers to open credit cards in your name, or at least track you down and possibly go through your trash (ALWAYS cut up or shred discarded mail).
5. Don’t make your Facebook searchable on Google!Nowadays, it’s possible for your Facebook to be viewed even by people who do not have Facebook. Don’t believe me? Type your name as it appears on Facebook into Google and see if your profile shows up. If it does (and even if it doesn’t) follow this link to disable Facebook from making your profile searchable on the internet (unclick the “Create a public search listing” box). Not only can potential employers find you this way, but so can mom and dad, nana and papa, and…yeah, the whole free world.
Additionally, if you visit the Facebook Help Page, you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about anything on Facebook. I’ve been a Facebook user for years now and this site taught me quite a few things…particularly on the functions of Pokes.