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Could the Facebook timeline get you fired?

Joe Bloggs Facebook timelineBefore I begin, let me say I like Facebook. I am generally in favour of the changes it makes, even though they are hard to track. Interface aside, though, I am not a fan of the open sharing policy that sites like Facebook seem to love.

For me, use if the internet should follow a real world mentality. If I go to a party and share a story or some information with friends, I might expect one or two of them to share that story with their friends. I choose to tell people what I think, share a joke or announce something and that is me making a conscious decision for them to know it.

Now, imagine in real life if, each time you made a phone call at work, the office tannoy announced that you had made a phone call. Imagine each time you go to have a cigarette break the fact is detailed on the noticeboard. What if you go to a job interview at a rival company and your movements are recorded publicly for your bosses to see?

This scenario is what the new Facebook could be like. With the new Facebook timeline feature, your use of third party applications connected to Facebook will post status updates telling the world what you have read, what you have joined and what you have done. Imagine you start browsing job ads or reading salacious material and Facebook announces it on your timeline without asking you first.

This is a pessimistic view, of course, but anyone using Facebook or any social media should be responsible in understanding how it works. As Facebook, and other social networks, becomes more open in its reporting of your activities, there is a real danger that your professional life could be tainted by what your bosses and your clients can see you getting up to while they think you are working hard for their benefit.

All the more reason for companies to start implementing social media training and social media responsibility, and for individuals to think about what they do in public – even if they think it’s in private.

See also:
Why don’t they call it antisocial networking?
(UK Parents Lounge).
Should you friend the boss on Facebook? (Sydney Morning Herald).
Facebook’s Eroding Privacy Policy: A Timeline (Business Insider).

FacebookPrivacyReputation Management

Steve Masters • September 29, 2011

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