Students may think I nag them about Facebook just because they steal time from their writing-lab assignments to swap messages and tweak lists of favorite movies, songs and people... but I'm also worried they'll leave behind an archive of party-school photo albums, late-night bad writing and lists of affiliations they may not want prospective employers to see online in two, five or 10 years.
"Persistence" is a good quality for a reporter to have. But it's also a quality of toxic waste... and of anything you post online, thanks to Google's cache, Archive.org's Wayback Machine and simple cut-and-paste.
Check out these recent stories on the topic:
Online Remark Can Now Sink Job Candidate.
Companies are looking up job applicants on social networking sites like MySpace. By Alan Finder. [NYT > Home Page]
Wonkette sets sights on Tennessee senator's sons' websitesNews Sentinel editor Jack McElroy on handling that story, with several comments from readers who thought it was a bad idea.
Agency, which specialises in eavesdropping and code-breaking, is
funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that
people post about themselves on social networks. And it could harness
advances in internet technology - specifically the forthcoming
"semantic web" championed by the web standards organisation W3C - to
combine data from social networking websites with details such as
banking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to build
extensive, all-embracing personal profiles of individuals.
You should always assume anything you write online is stapled to your resume."
What's true for Facebook is true for blogs, too... especially when combined with going out in public and having your picture taken wearing shorts and knee socks, high-waisted Confederate pants, or whatever...
Gathering Highlights Power of the Blog
If any more proof were needed of the rising influence of bloggers --
at least for the Democratic Party -- it could be found on the Las
Vegas Strip. By Adam Nagourney. [NYT > Home Page
Over in Nashville, Rex Hammock (a prospective employer for journalism grads) saw some of the same items and compressed his advice into four words: Dear young friends with Facebook or Myspace, etc., accounts
The bottomline from an article in tomorrow's NYTimes: "Don't be an idiot
Money quote: "I think students have the view that Facebook is their
space and that the adult world doesn't know about it," said Mark W.
Smith, assistant vice chancellor and director of the career center at
Washington University in St. Louis. "But the adult world is starting to
Of course "not being an idiot" doesn't mean holding back well-thought-out personal or political opinions, or not having the courage of your convictions.
(I'm tempted to add "as long as your "convictions" aren't felonies or terribly embarrassing misdemeanors." In some jurisdictions, however, things classified as felonies may be worth fighting for.)