Thursday, June 23, 2016

Why Your Facebook Privacy Setting Actually Matters

Facebook made its first appearance when I was a junior in college, when you still needed to have an email address from a school that had signed up to be on Facebook in order to be active on the social media site. I guess it gave us a false sense of security because my friends and I naively assumed that the rule of needing to have a college email address to be on Facebook would help to keep a lot of the creeps off of the site.
I don’t think I thought much about privacy at the time. Facebook was really the first social media site that I had any interaction with, so I didn’t really consider who could see my profile and the pictures that I shared. During my first official date with my husband, however, he thought he slyly worked a few things he had seen on my Facebook profile into the conversation. This was still during the early Facebook days, and this was probably the first time that I realized how public your Facebook profile really is.

As time went on, Facebook began letting anyone and everyone have an account, and it became much more than just a college social networking site. I still remember my dad sending me a Facebook friend request and how strange I thought it was at the time to imagine my parents interacting on social media. Funny enough, my friends and I find that our parents (55+ audiences) are now the most active on Facebook. In fact, as of January 2014, the 55+ demographic on Facebook comprised of approximately 28 million users, making it the fastest growing demographic on the social media site. At this point, you probably shouldn’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want your parents, co-workers or children to see.

When I began working in Corporate America, I played a role in helping to hire students right out of college for my former organization’s Leadership Development Program. Can you guess what one of our tools was to interview candidates? That’s right. Facebook. Surprisingly, many of our candidates at the time had not taken advantage of Facebook’s privacy features, so pictures of all of their late night party shenanigans were available to the public. Yes, I guess I was one of those creepy Facebook stalkers that checked out profiles of people I had never even met before, and yes, certain photos definitely decreased a person’s chances of landing a job. That being said, you should double check your privacy settings before you apply for a new job, and keep anything slightly non professional private while you are employed.

As a business owner, I also recommend you always keep your Facebook privacy settings in mind. While you want your brand’s Facebook profile available for all of the public to see it, your personal life should stay personal. Too many intimate personal details may impact how your audience interacts with your brand on social media, especially if they touch on controversial issues.

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