For the select few of you out there who are familiar with a little thing called Facebook – and may even be a member – I have some rather unpleasant news.
In addition to spreading to almost every single college in the country, the growing phenomenon of Facebook has recently opened its pages to high schools, allowing naive pre-college students to get acquainted with it before it essentially takes over their lives. While this fact alone may seem a bit daunting, the use of Facebook continues to expand in even more unfathomable ways.
Unfortunately, college and high school students are not the only people who find this directory useful. In what is now a growing trend, the next person to look at your Facebook profile could be your future employer or your law school admissions officer.
You know that summer internship you’ve been working so hard to get? You spent hours agonizing over writing the perfect cover letter. You tried to include as many potentially important and useful pieces of information you could possibly think of for your resume to accentuate all of your positive attributes. Your friends may all be green with envy after hearing about how well your interview with that big New York City company went. But if there are indecent photos of you posted on Facebook, you might as well withdraw your application.
After searching online for more information on this new procedure, it appears that employers are not the only people making use of these cyber directories. I found article after article about students being reprimanded, punished and even expelled from college for merely joining controversial Facebook groups. College administrators and admissions officers are viewing students’ accounts.
To make matters worse, parents are using Facebook to check up on their children’s behavior while away at college. It’s a frightening thought that 3,000 miles away your parents can still find out what you did over the weekend by looking at your freshly posted pictures from that drunken frat party. Facebook makes it all possible.
The eruption of all of these Facebook-and-blog-related scandals in colleges all over the country brings the question of ethics into play. Is it moral and ethical for admissions officers to choose not to admit a potential student into their university because of questionable information on Facebook? Is this considered an invasion of privacy? Facebook and other blogs like it are obviously open to the public, but to those who use them there is a preconceived notion that our profile will only be seen by fellow college students. How can we be so naive as to think that something we put on the web will be visible only to people we willingly would allow to view it?
Even though it may seem sacrilegious, if that really amazing summer internship with the competitive applicant pool is at stake, it may be in your best interest to be cautious about what you want the entire world, including prospective employers, to know about you.
Weintraub can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.