I was interviewed Saturday evening on the NBC Nightly News. The story was about how employers are increasingly using sites such as Facebook for background checking of potential employees.
The vast majority of college students are completely unaware that anyone other than students have access to these on-line profiles so the information is, ahem, often not exactly "G" rated. Some students make the mistake of posting information about excessive drinking, gambling, sexual contacts, etc. and mistakenly feel that no harm can come from their posting of what used to be regarded as private behavior.
In today's reality show world (many of these students do not remember a time when there weren't reality shows at the top of the TV ratings chart), this information is deemed by some as being public. But it isn't and students need to learn that anything that they post on-line, even to a site that offers limited password protection such as Facebook, is information that can potentially be accessed by anyone at anytime and forever.
My advice to students is that they only post information on-line that they would feel comfortable sharing with their grandmother. If their grandmother would not want to hear about the behaviors of the student, then don't post it anywhere on-line. Posting information on-line is like getting a tattoo. There's nothing inherently wrong with posting information on-line or getting a tattoo, but in both cases you need to be prepared for it to be out there forever and for people to see it whom you may not want to see it. If you're not prepared to live with that, then don't do it.
To see the interview, please go to my blog entry about it at CollegeRecruiter.com Blog. Please feel free to add your comments by clicking on the Comments link under the blog entry. And please feel free to forward this to any college students that you feel may benefit from seeing the story.
President and Founder
CollegeRecruiter.com career site
Steven Rothberg is the President and Founder of CollegeRecruiter.com, the highest traffic career site used by job hunting students and recent graduates and the employers who want to hire them.