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Facebook, MySpace, Twitter: Are They Employment Risks?

Updated on September 28, 2009

Why Does The Media Say "Yes" When Most Employers Say "No?"

It started as a way for young people who knew each other in person to stay in touch across the Web. Then, they began getting to know total strangers in cyberspace, sometimes having over 200 “friends” proudly displayed for all to see. Older people got on board next. Yes, I’m talking about the phenomenon of social networking sites.

If it had stopped there, I wouldn’t be writing this. However, today they seem to be everywhere—well beyond the realms of ‘tweens, teens and college kids. Every time I find an interesting news story online, at the top is the option to “Tweet This!” Most major news stations have a Facebook site, including CNN and the related HLN. It makes the news when a sports star “tweets” something unflattering about another player, coach or owner. Even my university has jumped on the Facebook bandwagon, and half of my classmates have asked me why I haven’t done the same. Everyone I know has a MySpace page, but I still do not.

You all may be asking “Why don’t you just get on board?”

Answer: I want to have a real career later on in life!

About a year or two ago, even before Twitter existed, news shows and newspapers ran many stories warning high school and college students that potential employers check everything when screening potential applicants, including their online activity on social networking sites. “If you wouldn’t want your employer to see it, don’t put it on MySpace” most of them said.

For me, this translated into “just don’t bother.” Who can be sure what a potential employer might find objectionable? While I have no intention of taking nude pictures of myself, let alone posting them all over the Internet, what if I wrote a “blog” that someone didn’t like? Would that be enough to blackball me for life? If I did get a page, there wouldn’t be much on it.

This may sound paranoid to some of you. Many of you have similar accounts and often mirror your Hubs on them. I’m sure that you have jobs, or have had them, and will have them again once the economy turns around. This would seem to suggest that social networking sites are not as harmful as once suggested—perhaps.

For me, it’s the type of career I’m aiming for. As I have said in previous Hubs and on my profile, I am still hoping that the FBI will accept me after I graduate. The requirements—physical, mental and criminal (or, rather, lack thereof)—are very stringent. I imagine that they may not look too kindly upon those candidates who choose to display their life stories for all to see, complete with photos, Friends contacts, relationship status and zodiac sign. If they hire on the basis of personal merit, why let an ill-conceived blog about your latest breakup make it look like you’ve got too much drama in your life to be taken seriously as a future Special Agent?

When I first heard about HubPages, I was hesitant about joining for the exact same reasons. Any time one puts one’s personal information on the Internet, it is at the risk that something connected with you—in this case, something one writes about—will come back to haunt you later. There are a myriad of topics I haven’t even touched, and may not touch, until and unless my future career has been secured (and even then….). This is why I have not identified where I live in my profile or on any Hubs, nor used an actual photo.

Thankfully, all has been well so far, and probably will continue to be so. I also want to thank all of you for being so supportive. Please keep reading!

I end this Hub by asking for your opinions: In your personal experience, is it “safe” to join Facebook, MySpace and/or Twitter in terms of present and future employment? Is it the content that one must be cautious about, or is it having an account in the first place that may put you in jeopardy?

If merely having a social networking account can put you at employment risk, then WHY, WHY, WHY have they become so ubiquitous? You’d think that if it’s acceptable for CNN and The Weather Channel, it would be acceptable everywhere, right?

Ah, the (insert my screen name here)s of life….

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    • conundrum profile image

      conundrum 8 years ago

      Thanks for the advice, wannabwestern. I guess that what I heard on the news is a bit outdated, or maybe aimed more at teens who may be more likely to be irresponsible with what they put out there. You gave me something to think about. Thanks, as always, for reading!

    • wannabwestern profile image

      Carolyn Augustine 8 years ago from The Land of Tractors

      I agree that people shouldn't post objectionable stuff out there. But there's more to this. On Facebook you can limit who can see stuff on your accounts. What if you have coworkers, bosses, etc. as your facebook, myspace, and twitter friends. Best to be very very careful about how you speak and manage your career. One option is to keep your personal accounts as private as possible and then to have a separate account for your public and business relationships. I'm interested to see what you have to say.