Save face, employers are looking

Michelle Poje

Last semester, my Facebook photo immortalized me as “The Seed of Chucky.”

The picture had been taken when I came across a standee for the flick that featured Chucky and Tiffany holding a swaddled infant. The infant’s face had been cut out, allowing people to stick their face through the hole and thus become the offspring of the murderous duo.

The picture was rather amusing; I had scrunched up my face and stuck out my tongue for added effect.

And then my father called. “Did you know employers are using Facebook to investigate future employees?” he asked. “An employer could be looking at your profile right now.”

Suddenly, images of my friends laughing at my picture were replaced by images of an employer seeing my goofy face sticking out of a Chucky standee. And I was no longer amused.

According to the Web site “Facebook only allows users to view the profiles of their friends and other students at their school” as a security measure. And in order to register, you must have a valid college or alumni e-mail address.

But imagine you are interviewing for your dream job and your employer is a graduate of Kent State. He or she logs onto Facebook with an alumni e-mail, types in your name and up pops your profile, complete with a picture of you wearing a lampshade on your head and dancing with an alcoholic beverage.

Whoops. Suddenly a crazy picture and profile that lists your interests as beer, beer and more beer could overshadow your dazzling charm and references and land your dream job in the hands of someone else.

Not looking for employment? Doesn’t matter. According to The Daily Targum, the official newspaper at Rutgers University, law enforcement officials are also using Facebook to nab underage drinkers or drug users. And in 2005, The Brown Daily Herald, at Brown University, reported on a student at Fisher College, in Boston, who was expelled after officials learned he helped start a group that “harassed” a campus police officer.

Which leads me to ask: Is it fair for students to be snooped on in this way?

Sure, you have the right to put whatever you want (except porn) into your profile. There is nothing wrong with wearing a lampshade and slapping evidence of it on the Internet. And if your interests are beer, beer and more beer, you should be allowed to proudly post it for all your friends to see.

However, Facebook is a public forum. And just as we have the right to post goofy photos, employers and school officials with access to the site have the right to look at our profiles, whether we like it or not. And they are.

In the end, it all comes down to personal responsibility. You have the right to walk around in a chicken costume, but you probably wouldn’t wear it on an interview.

The same idea applies here. If you don’t want to change your profile, change your security setting to one that allows only friends to view it. That way you can share all your personal pictures and thoughts without worrying about any repercussions.

But as for me, I’ll keep the “Seed of Chucky” picture to myself.

Michelle Poje is senior newspaper journalism major and is a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].