How Well Do You Know Your (Facebook) Friends?

How careful are you about who you friend on Facebook? This story from a post on ResumeBear illustrates the concerns of random friending:

It seems a teen was applying for a job as security guard for the local Port Authority. He was a high school graduate, decent kid, kept himself out of trouble. Apparently a good candidate by all reason. During the interview, he was asked by the recruiter if he had ever been incarcerated or if any of his friends had been or were presently. The teen answered “no.” To his knowledge, none of his friends had ever run afoul of the law. The recruiter asked him again if he was SURE none of them had any criminal history or were currently doing time. The teen answered again “No.” The recruiter then pulls out a copy of the teen’s Facebook page, with two of his 900+ “friends” highlighted. Turns out they were both presently being held in jail for varying crimes. The teen immediately responds that he has no idea who these people are…and you can see where this is going…the recruiter asks him “Then why are you listing them as ‘friends’ on your Facebook page?”

He didn’t get the job.

This particular anecdote made me think of the recent FTC ruling that now allows the public parts of your Facebook profile to be archived for up to seven years. Just randomly flipping through profiles of folks, many of whom had no mutual connections with me, and I saw quite a few friends lists. Yes, those can be archived if they are publicly available.

Now, I know that some of you may say, “But the kid in the story was going for a job with the Port Authority. I’m not in a field that would be a security concern, so it doesn’t apply to me.” I get that.

However, who’s to say that you may not decide to change careers in the future, and you pick one that would have a more thorough background check, such as law enforcement or working in a research lab? Perhaps you will decide to run for public office one day. Or, maybe you find yourself needing to take a survival job as a security guard.

Whatever the scenario, if the information on your Facebook account is available for the public to see, it is out of your hands as to how it ends up being used.

There are two options to addressing this issue:

1. Don’t indiscriminately friend people. Just because someone requests to friend you on Facebook doesn’t mean you have to accept.

For my Facebook account, I am more open because it is part of my professional profile and what I do here on The Job Quest. But if someone I don’t know in real life sends me a friend request with no explanation of who they are, no mutual connections, and/or no photo, I’m not going to friend the person. For a personal profile, you may choose to have specific criteria that is more stringent.

2. Don’t have your friends list be public. This one is a bit trickier given the maze of privacy controls on Facebook, so I made a short video to explain how you can do this.

What are your thoughts on friending and hiding your friends list?

Does this article resonate with you? Let’s work together for you and your career!

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