I am not talking about the Facebook user with one million friends. I am not talking about the social humanitarians who are saving the world one tweet at a time. I am talking about our social media alter egos. Every super hero from Batman to Superman to Spider Man has an alter ego. By day they are average men leading normal lives, but by night they are crime fighters who are irresistible to ladies.
Apparently all it takes is a mask and costume to completely change their identities. Well today, in the “real” world that we live in, all it seems to take is a username and a password.
Impersonation is the highest form of flattery
With the Manti Te’o scandal, the idea of “catfishing” someone and a little technology, we can become anyone we like on the Internet. For the average social media user, we would not go so far as to impersonate someone else, but are we merely impersonating ourselves?
Because of sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, your resume is no longer the last thing an employer is going to check before an interview. In fact, these sites can become evidence for any future incriminating posts you may make as long as you have your job. Recent rulings have suggested that workers are free to speak about company matters on social sites without any fear of being fired, but is that Facebook post going to keep you from getting a promotion, or getting the job in the first place?
Last year I had a phone interview with a company. Mid-way through our conversation, the employer told me that I was hard to find on Facebook. I was baffled, but quickly I grew upset. Firstly I was a little confused as to why he would admit to Facebook stalking me, but then I grew angry that he felt the need to reassure me of his Facebook detective skills and that he had found me. This sort of unauthorized background check is now definitely to be expected, but something about his admitting it made it a completely different situation in my mind.
You can do it, but bragging about it crossed a line.
He then felt the need to inform me that my pictures were not private and that anyone could see them. My anger turned to panic. I started mentally shuffling through the Rolodex in my mind of what could be on there. Then I realized, I had nothing on my Facebook to hide and I made sure to make that clear with him. I knew I had no incriminating photos of myself because they simply do not exist. I was not hiding them, nor do I have two profiles. Facebook is public and I understand that. But no matter how clean my profiles are, it seemed to me there was a breach in ethics here.
He later verified that my profile was clean, as if he were a detective trying to find some dirt on me. I still think he was disappointed he didn’t find anything.
With Great Power…
We have grown to expect and accept such cyber checking, but what’s more troubling – the fact that it happens or that we accept it? For this very reason, it seems people have grown more social media savvy, but perhaps also socially inept. How well do your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles match up? How well do they even truly capture who you are as a person? We can post exactly what we want people to know about us on these sites.
You could be the president of a company that does not exist or have thousands of friends you never met. The LinkedIn profile you have could be someone completely different than the person you are on Facebook.
To some extent it is to be expected that your profile for friends is going to look at least a little different than your profile for business. That should still be no real excuse for you being able to treat your Facebook password as the key to a whole different world and life. At the end of the day, the person in my phone interview was right. We are not even the gatekeepers. Nothing is really private anymore, so tweet wisely my friends. You never know when your Facebook page is going to be your own work reference for your LinkedIn page.