Social Media

Your Career And Social Voyeurism

May 14, 2009

When you apply for a job, one of the first things that employers will do is take a look at your resume. Traditionally, this along with a face to face interviews were the steps to getting a job. With the ability to now get information within seconds, traditional steps to getting a job are being substituted by other methods. What it says on paper is no longer enough information for employers. With information becoming easier to gather, employers want to get as much information as they can on possible candidates. Using sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, employers can now find out when you first started a job, who you know, as well as other information you may not want them to know like where you went last night or that ‘one crazy night’ during college.

Mind If I Stalk You?

Launched in early 2004, Facebook is now the 3rd most visited website according to Compete.com and has not only helped users reconnect with old friends and make new ones, but sparked a new culture that can be described as “social voyeurism.” Another word that I have heard used to describe it is “social network stalking.” While many argue that it is unfair for employers to use your Facebook account as basis for being qualified for a job, what people need to realize is that whatever you put online becomes part of the world wide web. Privacy is a myth. No matter how much privacy you put on your Facebook account, there are ways for employers to get that information. From companies having current employees already in your network to ‘dummy’ accounts that friend potential candidates, for one to believe their Facebook accounts are private is wrong.

Social media stalking by companies is just the tip of the iceberg though. To better understand, it is best to look at the Facebook update feed. For anyone that believes they are not ‘stalking’ on Facebook, I reply that you actually might be. Users that update their status typically do so because they have a value based comment that they want to share with their friends. What those users don’t realize, is that they are sharing it with people they may not even know that well. A question that everyone should ask themselves is: Do you really interact with every person on your friends list? Probably not. Just taking a look at my update feed, someone who I haven’t talked to in nearly 4 years just wrote “Drunk Dialing is fun.” There really is no reason for me to keep this person on my friends list, but I do because of the same reason that millions of others do: they want to know what others are up too. Most likely, this person will stay on my friends list till I no longer use Facebook and I will probably not even message/chat with them once. Still, I will know exactly what they are up to all thanks to Facebook.

Quantity Over Quality

As I mentioned earlier, Twitter is also one tool that has begun to become part of the ‘social voyeurism’ culture. While stalking on Twitter may not be as prevalent as on Facebook, this can be explained in part due to the ease in using Twitter as a professional networking tool. I would love to say that I know each and every one of the people following my updates, but I would also love to say that I will win the lottery tomorrow. Both are just the product of wishful thinking. Still, although complete strangers are able to follow your updates, their is a growing trend where Twitter users are aiming for quantity rather than quality when it comes to Twitter followers. In a culture where the number of people you know is seen as a big plus, the same goes for Twitter. Although you may not know all the people following you, to an extent it is a reflection of your influence in your social network. While Facebook has the potential to do more bad than good for someone applying for a job, Twitter is the opposite. Twitter’s use as a networking tool for your career can be a huge leveraging tool in your favor.

What Can You Do?

With companies and ‘stalkers’ using Facebook and Twitter to learn more about you, there are some important things that you can do to protect your profiles. Something that I have suggested to professionals is that when creating a Facebook or Twitter account, it is important to first decide for what purpose their account will be: personal or professional. If you are going to dedicate your account for your career, then its content should reflect it. Photos of you at a friends bachelor party is an example of what should not be in your professional profile. A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t want your mom to see it, then don’t put it online. If you do decide that you want to create an account for personal use, then you should make sure you protect your content by setting the appropriate privacy settings. It is important to remember though, that no matter how much privacy you set your accounts at, as mentioned before, privacy is a myth. Their will always be ways around the walls you have set in place. Just like how the Great Wall of China is slowly crumbling, so will the walls of privacy.

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Photo by Ansy

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10 Comments

  • Reply Ximena Eduarda May 17, 2009 at 7:06 am

    Thanks for inviting me to read your post which I valued for it gives you lots of room to think about. First of all, difinitely social networks do demand you assume fully the responsibility of what you do and say at anytime considering it is public no matter how you set your preferences, in the past only public people had to be careful with what they said, now we are all public whether we like it or not as long as we interact on cyberspace.
    Then, it also made me consider how times are changing the way we present ourselves for more than 90% just open the door to be just the way we are, no faking, no trying to be the ‘good guys’, just us and that is subverting the structures of fulfilling requisites that never held true except for pretending…
    You might not be able to avoid others judging you but still you got the option to be yourself and that’s much more than social voyeurism which is also an option you decide to play or not.

  • Reply Lindsay May 18, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    Hey, thanks for the comment on my blog and for adding me to Viralogy which looks like a pretty cool idea. I tried to “claim” my blog but can’t edit the css on wordpress so I’m not sure how to add the tracker on my blog otherwise (any ideas?) in any case thanks a lot for your interest.

    As for the post, it is pretty scary how much of our lives are online and accessible to strangers/future employers now. More scary now that I will be entering the real world in a couple years…

    Thanks
    Lindsay

  • Reply Lauren From Texas May 19, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Hey thanks for the comment and for adding me to viralogy! I appreciate it. Keep up the good work/writing. 🙂

  • Reply Rica May 21, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Okay, now I’m kinda paranoid.

    I think I have to lessen my FB content now. LOL.

    Interesting read and great blog. 🙂

  • Reply The818 May 22, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Terrifying, really.

  • Reply Teresa Garcia May 22, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    hey thanks for the comment. i like your post! i totally agree that the idea of privacy is quickly changing. great insight!

    cheers,
    teresa

  • Reply LivingWicked May 22, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    Hey thanks for the blog plug on that site. 🙂

    I agree with this post wholeheartedly. We are so vulnerable and open online… and most of us don’t even realize it.

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