- Change Your Privacy Settings: Change your privacy settings so that only close friends and family can view your personal information.
- Create a “limited access” list : This is for people you may not know very well (or at all), and for coworkers, or potential employers who’ve sent you a friend request and put you in that awkward position of having to either decline (and offend them) or accept (and have your whole private life on display).
- Reevaluate Your “Friends”: Go through your friends list and see who a.) Shouldn’t be there at all (promptly remove), and b.) Needs to be moved to the “limited access” list you’ve just created. A good rule of thumb is if you don’t know them in real life, you don’t need to friend them on facebook – there is too much personal information that could be used against you for a stranger to have access to. Coworkers should go into the limited access list, with exceptions only for VERY good friends.
- “Edit” Your Photos: Go through your photos—not just on Facebook, but even online photo sharing albums that you don’t THINK anyone else can see—and remove anything that’s questionable. According to a New York Times article, it’s photos and videos that seem to get people in the most trouble. Questionable material can include nude photos and any photos where you’re dressed just a little too skimpy, as well as anything that makes reference to drugs, firearms (even if you own them legally), underage drinking and even smoking. Also remove any photos where you’re portrayed as immature—such as photos of you giving the middle finger or wearing t-shirts with inappropriate language. Remove these photos immediately. If you don’t own the photos, untag yourself and ask the person who posted them to take them down.
- Self Censor: Don’t make any comments or status posts that use inappropriate language, or language can be construed as racist, sexist, offensive, or even culturally incensitive. If you’re looking for work, also steer clear of posts that are overly religious or political. Remove these posts immediately and don’t make anymore. In fact, some potential employers will view status posts simply to see the types of things you talk about on your Facebook page, and even if they don’t find anything inappropriate per se, they may be turned off if you seem immature.
- Reevaluate Your “Groups”: Steer clear of any groups that could be construed as offensive. A recent New York Times article gave a poignant example. A job seeker turned off potential employees by belonging to a group called “This Is America. I Shouldn’t Have to Press 1 for English.”
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