What is your definition of a friend? Well when it comes to Facebook, just about anything goes. Here in the mini-universe I call home, Las Vegas, a “friend” on Facebook can be used pretty loosely. You meet someone at a party, next thing you know, you are Facebook buddies. But when is friending someone borderline unethical?
A friend of mine, let’s call her Ethel, was on the job hunt and was interviewing with a luxury restaurant group breaking into the Vegas market. Not long after her first phone interview (ie: screening process), Ethel logged on to Facebook only to see that the HR rep from the restaurant group had sent her a friend request on Facebook.
A red flag went up for Ethel. Wait a minute, she thought, who said I have to share all my personal information with a potential employer? Access to photos, updates and personal musings should not be out there for just any old “friend” to see.
A Facebook page can provide insight into a person’s life that would otherwise be considered off limits during a job interview; do you have kids, how old are you, where do you like to vacation, how you spend your free time. I mean connecting with a potential employer on LinkedIn makes sense, but on Facebook, is that really a good idea? And if Ethel were to refuse, what does that say? Will it appear as though she has something to hide?
Any savvy Facebook user knows in order to mix personal and professional “friends”, it’s all about the privacy settings. I advised Ethel to accept the invitation but not before she set up a group in her privacy settings that would seriously screen her personal information. When she accepts this nosey HR person’s invite, she can simply assign her to the group with limited access to her personal info. Case closed, no harm, no foul.
I am constantly amazed at how many people I speak with who have no idea what privacy settings are. Many people know that they can set up privacy settings but they have no idea how to work their way around the “settings menu”.
And just so you know, Ethel is not alone. Privacy is the number one reason people give when I asked them why they are not active on Facebook. They complain too much of their lives is out there for the world to see.
Well the truth is, Facebook isn’t going anywhere. In fact, recent numbers show traffic to Facebook increased 4.6% in April. Not only are more people visiting Facebook, just about everyone is coming up with more creative ways to make Facebook work for them.
Don’t get left behind. For those who have not yet honed your privacy setting skills I recommend you spend a good twenty minutes playing around with the privacy menu on your Facebook page. I think you will thank me for it.