12 Aug 2017

Audit Your Social Media

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Have you checked out your own social media lately? Take a good look at what you’ve got online, as it could effect your ability to be hired, get a loan, join an organization or even attend the college that you want.

These days, most of us have joined several social media platforms over the years. I know that I was on MySpace and CompuServer at first, many years ago, then moved to Facebook, followed by LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. Naturally, I’ve also got a presence on Instagram, Pinterest and numerous other online networks.

If you’ve been on the internet for any length of time, you’ve probably posted pictures and videos from your smartphone, and have spent hour after hour long into the evening being part of discussions about every conceivable topic. Sometimes these discussions can get very heated, especially around election time, and much can be written without the tough of self-censorship.

Worse yet, other people can post pictures, videos and status updates and tag you, which places those on your timeline. Your wall or home page could wind up with hundreds of photos featuring you that you didn’t take and didn’t authorize, for example, which don’t necessarily show you in the best light. Sometimes, these can be downright insulting or even degrading.

So what’s the problem? Who cares what’s on your social media?

Well, it’s common practice now for hiring managers to check social media before making a decision to hire, or to even interview, people. If you have questionable content visible on the internet your resume might just go straight into the trash. Illegal? It doesn’t matter, no one would ever know.

Although it’s less common, apartment managers might check you out before renting, loan officers may review your social media before granting a loan, and your posts might be audited before you are allowed to join any organization.

The police and other agencies can also freely, and legally, look at your social media any time they want. Since your posts are all public, there are no restrictions at all on their abilities to view what you’ve posted and even use it in court.

What should you do about it?

Put aside some time and go through all your social  media from top to bottom.

  • Delete any pictures that show you in a negative light, such as drunk photos from college, throwing up pictures and other scandalous images. You might think they are cute or funny, but they could cost you a job.
  • Delete videos presenting you poorly. That one showing you dancing half-naked by the pool during a party? Get rid of it. And hope that it wasn’t copied a million times all over the web.
  • Review all your old posts, including comments, for anything you’ve written that’s negative. Be especially wary of posts from election periods.

Your instinct might scream, “but hey! It’s a free country! No one can tell me to take down my personal photos and videos and I can say what I want.”

Yep, that’s true. You can post and say whatever you want, within the bounds set by the law.

However, freedom of expression does not mean you are free from the consequences of your acts and what you say.

If you want to be treated like a professional, then you need to talk and act like one. If you want to be treated like a child or an idiot, then go ahead and post childish or idiotic things. The choice is yours.

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