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How Facebook Privacy Can Affect Your Future Employment and Personal Brand

Facebook is a great social utility that allows people to keep in touch and interact with friends, tell everyone what’s on your mind, or share things instantly over the interwebs.

But is all this information private between just you and your intended audience?

Well in fact, whether you like it or not, things on the web (even things you think are private) can be seen quite easily by just about everyone – including potential employers. According to U of O PR professor Kelli Matthews, over 70% of employers use Facebook as a background check for job candidates.

Don't let this happen to you.

As a result, the image you display on your facebook page is the foundation of your personal brand.

The way an individual student portrays themselves online is paramount to their potential careers – especially for students in the journalism school, where nearly everything you do is online.

As a group, we will be learning how students can use technology to their advantage, and also, unfortunately to their detriment.

There is a fine line to having a personality and showing potential employers you are a serious candidate for the job you desire.

As students who have already, or are about to embark on the job and internship search in the near future, it is essential that we learn the consequences of the social media sphere.

For example, let’s take a look at Henna Schwartz. She recently graduated from the University of Oregon and went to work for a small software company outside of Portland.  She liked her job but adjusting to working life from college was difficult for her. Throw in a demanding boss, a trying landlord and a complicated long distance relationship, and Henna was bound to have some ups and downs.

One  especially difficult day, Henna reacted by expressing her emotions in a simple Facebook status: “I hate my company!”

Little did she know, a colleague (and a “friend” on Facebook) saw it, printed it out and showed her boss. 24 hours later, Henna was searching for a new job — with a black mark on her resume.

Is this fair?

Yes and no. Henna has the right to free expression, but the company has a pricy reputation to protect as well. Unfortunately for Henna, she had to learn the hard way about how important it is to filter what you post online.

But with a little practice, effort and attention to detail, you can not only learn how to  avoid making Henna’s mistake, but how to create a strong online footprint as well.

In an article on the self-proclaimed “social media guide”,, blogger Antony Mayfield offers tips on managing your online reputation. Mayfield says, “The measure of your reputation is what you do plus what others say about you.”

To support his motto, Mayfield believes in three things he’s learned while navigating the social media waters.

First, you are your network. Personally, you may be able to restrict your own profile but you have to think about the ones around you (friends, family, the girl you took drunk pictures with at that St. Patrick’s Day party) who could post things you wouldn’t want a boss seeing.

Second: if you can’t delete, compete. It’s a good idea to ask people to remove embarrassing content about you, but in the majority of cases the best course is to make sure that you are the first and best source of information about yourself appearing on Google. Produce your own strong content so you can control your online search engine destiny.

Thirdly, set up a Google Alerts account to monitor what it being said about you.

Mayfield offers one last bit of online wisdom, “It should be the goal of every web-savvy professional to have their online reputation precede them.”

One of Branding U of O’s very own group members has taken this knowledge to heart and is getting desirable results.

Keith Becker, a sophomore PR major, is ahead of the curve when it comes to social media. After an internship last summer with Vineberg Communications, he learned the importance and influence that Facebook, Twitter and blogging can provide.

A sportswriter as heart, Keith set up a Twitter account to share musings on Oregon Ducks sports. Then he expanded from micro-blogging to real blogging, on a site, and then he created a Facebook fan page so he could connect with yet another platform of people.

In less than a year, Keith has 1,250 twitter followers, 650 Facebook fans and over 75,000 unique visitors to his blog. In just a few clicks, he can share a thought with a very large number of people.

Because of this, he was easily able to find a paying summer internship at a top public relations agency in San Francisco.

Sadly, not enough people have developed this understanding of social media. Currently 66% of Generation Y isn’t aware that their online footprint isn’t an important factor in the hiring process, and furthermore, 56% think it’s unfair.

Times have changed and students need to adapt with them. There’s no going back.

There is no shortage of horror stories about young job seekers being foiled by embarrassing pictures popping up when the manager Googles their name — here is one particularly funny one — but students and young professionals need to be aware that just about everything they post online can be seen by seen by anyone who cares enough to look.

This is why the idea of personal branding is important.  It gives people a concept to keep handy when socializing online.  We want people to think of the internet as a channel that allows other people (including current and future employers) to gather information about you.  The way you read reviews of products and search for information before making purchases, is essentially the same as an employer doing a background check before hiring you.

You may not think of yourself as a product that can be bought and sold, but you probably want to be paid for your work, which is just another way to say you want to sell your skills.  So think about what an employer would see if the went to the web looking for a brochure and review of you.


Navigating Social Media

Image by James Racer II

Social media can get you where you want to go in your career, or leave you lost in the web.

Facebook and Your Future Employment.

Facebook is becoming a source of information for employers to learn about employees and applicants. Students should be aware that their online information paints a picture that they may not intend to show employers.

Why Your Personal brand Matters

Why your Personal brand Matters.

By James Racer II
Companies are often skeptical of employee’s claims on their resumes, and with good reason. One unethical employee can damage the reputation of an entire company of otherwise great people. This is why some employers are using the web to research applicants.  Through Facebook, Twitter, and other social websites, people make their personal lives freely available to the world.  Why wouldn’t an employer use that information?  If you announce to your friends on an increasingly public Facbook post, how much you hate your current job, or slack off at work, why would you expect other employers to want to hire you?  Some people have even gone to the extreme ends of bad judgment and announced publicly that they have cheated on tests while earning their degrees.  It shouldn’t be news that what you say and do on-line can affect your life off-line, but for some it still is.

This is why the idea of personal branding is important.  It gives people a concept to keep handy when socializing online.  We want people to think of the internet as a channel that people (including current and future employers) gather information about you.  The way you read reviews of products and search for information before making purchases, is essentially the same as an employer doing a background check before hiring you.  You may not think of yourself as a product that can be bought and sold, but you probably want to be paid for your work, which is just another way to say you want to sell your skills.  So think about what an employer would see if the went to the web looking for a brochure and review of you.

Be honest about what you do, and let people (and employers) know that you know where the work and play boundaries are.  Think about it. If all that people see of you online is your fun side, how are they to judge you in any other way?  Your boss may also be party hound in their spare time, but they still want to know you won’t be calling in hung over on Monday mornings.  So use the internet to your advantage.  Make an online presence that highlights all of your skills and ethics, not just your most embarrassing moments.  Your future bosses will thank you.


MySpace works to become private alternative to Facebook.

In regard to my last post, PrivateBook, I thought it would be appropriate to continue with the theme of poor Facebook privacy. While Facebook’s population is increasing at a rapid rate, almost double in six months (according to Quantcast), users’ privacy  has dwindled.

We are constantly learning that Facebook has added new ways for third parties to learn “private” information about Facebook users. Although this may be a success for Facebook, users seem to be less than thrilled. With an increasing worry about their online privacy, users have become frustrated with these new settings.

As a result of the recent activity Facebook has engaged in, an outdated MySpace is stepping up to the plate to satisfy those worried about their online privacy. Jennifer Van Grove blogs about MySpace’s new plan on Mashable, a site dedicated to news in social media.

According to her post, MySpace is “announcing that the social networking site will soon make the default setting for updates ‘friends only.’” Although MySpace has yet to act on their plan for better privacy, their intent is to protect their users. Mike Jones, Co-President of MySpace, states, “MySpace’s core value of allowing self-expression and representation to yourself remains true, without the fear that your unique contribution to MySpace will be unknowingly used for an alternative purpose” (Mashable).

While this statement isn’t formally directed at Facebook, it is definitely a low-blow. I suppose only time will show just how important online privacy is to Facebook users and whether or not they make the switch to MySpace. Quantcast demographics show that MySpace is currently used by 185 million people, I wonder, however, will these numbers reach the expected 500 million people Facebook hosts (Time Magazine’s) after MySpace’s new and improved privacy settings come to life?

SNL and Social Media

Max Babson

To be completely honest I haven’t watched an episode of Saturday Night Live since Tracy Morgan left. The new cast member really haven’t gotten my attention, except for the “I’m on a Boat” music video. The show has been slipping in ratings and I think one major cause may be that they have lost touch with their once youthful following. I personally don’t know anyone my age that habitually watches the show anymore, and hit episodes are few and far between, usually depending on an A-list host.

So who does SNL bring in to deliver a massive hit on the ratings scale? Their biggest in two years in fact. Brad Pitt? Nope. Beyonce? Nope. Betty White! That’s right none other than the 88 year old icon who has enjoyed a recent rise in popularity due to some very funny commercials. Having Jay-Z as the musical guest may have helped those ratings a tad, but never the less, a great idea. But how did they come up with it?

As I said, SNL’s young fanbase seems to have dwindled over the last few years and what better way to get in touch with them than by tapping into social media? Thanks to I learned that they became aware of a facebook group that sprang up and quickly made its way to over 500,000 members that all had the same goal. Get Betty White on SNL!

Social media has given us the power to take an idea we’re passionate about and instantly share it with the world and find out how other people think about your idea. In terms of branding yourself think of how you can use this to build your own personal reputation. Get involved with causes you support or groups of any kind and be an influencer online. Leaving this kind of online footprint is going to show what you are capable of. Even if your cause is just to bring an old lady to late night TV.

Stolen Wings?

By James Racer II

It’s amazing how fast and how furiously things can spiral out of control on the internet. An Albany Oregon high school senior endured an emotional public shaming ordeal involving a national art prize that culminated in death threats from people she never knew.

Kasey Bowman 17, was selected to win a National Gold Medal and American Visions Award from The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers who present The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. One of her multiple prize winning paintings appears very similar to one by another artist who is popular on, a social media site for artists and art fans. When someone noticed the similarities between the paintings they mentioned it online. The news quickly spread to other sites, and to the artist Bowman was accused of copying. The stories began receiving comments by people outraged at Bowman.


The original image left, "Selfish" by Wenqing Yan; and "Stolen Wings" right, by Kasey Bowman

The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers was contacted, as well as Bowman’s school, and Bowman herself, by people angered at what they read online. Several public forums began filling with often unkind comments. One of the sources contacted was the Albany Democrat-Herald. Jennifer Moody, Education Reporter, wrote about the controversy due to the comments posted to the original story. Bowman made a public apology on her deviantart page. The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers revoked the awards given to Bowman. The statement on their Facebook page read:

“It has been brought to our attention, and we have confirmed, that a high school student submitted to The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards a painting that she now acknowledges was copied from another artist, Wenqing Yan. The student has apologized to the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, and her National Gold Medal and American Visions Award have been revoked. She is no longer considered a Scholastic Award winner. The work will not appear in our publications and the painting was removed from our online galleries. Contrary to information posted online by commenters on various sites, this student received no monetary prize from our program.” (Read further.)

Bowman received death threats over her painting. That’s how out of control social media can get. All the connections made through the social web and the perceived anonymity of modern communication sometimes seems to bypass many people’s comment filters.