The Shocking State of Social Media Privacy

I ran across an infographic on Social Media Today posted by Maddie Grant depicting how ignorant Americans are on the subject of social media privacy settings, particularly on Facebook. Though I am normally skeptical about these kinds of infographics that take data from several sources and slap it together, this one from WebX gave me a start. Here are some of the revelations:

  • 66% of adult users of Facebook did not know that privacy controls existed (tweet this now)
  • 28% of Facebook users share posts with more than just friends
  • 56% of American Facebook users are somewhat or very concerned about the privacy of their personal information
  • 91% of employee recruiters screen candidates through social media
  • Employers are most concerned about drug use, sexual posts or tweets, profanity, bad grammar, and pictures of drinking (in that order)
  • 49% of employers have rejected potential employees based on inappropriate photos and comments, or content about drinking or drugs

If you’re a young person hoping to get into a selective university, a student-athlete hoping to get recruited, or someone trying to build a resume for a job, have you considered your actions on social media? Do you even know how your privacy settings are set on your Facebook page and other social media platforms? Rather than get scared and ditch social media altogether, here are a few tips on how to use it to build your reputation instead of destroy it.

1.  First, make sure your privacy settings are locked down. Go to your Facebook timeline page, enter your privacy settings menu, and set them accordingly. There are currently two entrances to your privacy settings from your Timeline page: a gray sprocket on the upper right of your page and a little gray padlock right next to the sprocket. Both reveal a pull-down menu with areas you need to comb through and set.


2. Do not login to other online platforms with your Twitter of Facebook accounts. Set up an online ID for each individual platform you use, especially games and online newsrooms or chat rooms. Don’t extend the reach of your social media data. Keep your Facebook data confined to Facebook, your Twitter information to Twitter, and so forth.

3. Consider protecting your Twitter account if you’re not trying to develop a personal brand. Twitter is not like Facebook. You don’t have to approve your followers. Yes, you can block them, but that doesn’t protect your tweets from being retweeted. When you protect your Twitter account, only your approved followers can see your tweets and they cannot be tweeted. If you don’t want to protect your account, set some strict rules for yourself on what you will and won’t tweet. It’s unfortunate, but you can’t trust anybody to help protect your reputation online.

4. Consider using social media to build a personal brand and a good reputation. If you think of social media as a resume that is open to the public, you have the right idea. Get a copy of the book, Do It Yourself Online Reputation Management by Herbert Tabin and Craig Agranoff and pay special attention to the chapter on “Using Social Profiles.” The book is short and very easy to use. Consider the twenty dollar price tag an investment in learning how to build your reputation.

Make a set of informal guidelines for yourself on what you will and won’t post. Never post pictures of yourself drinking excessively, being involved in sexual impropriety, taking drugs, or being pictured with those who do. Also, watch your language and grammar online. And don’t retweet other people’s inappropriate behavior. Guilt by association…and you’re opening yourself up to reciprocal posting behavior from your friends.

You can learn to use social media as an online resume and still be able to connect with your friends. If you want people to notice you online, make sure they notice you for the right reasons.  Check out our Practice Safe Social workshops today and bring us to your school or place of business so we can help you learn to use social media responsibly.

Back to the infographic: what was the biggest surprise to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


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