Online Reputation Management: How Do I Hide this Facebook Status from My Boss…?

Every now and then I’ll come home and find my roommate distracted by Facebook. I always expect her to be creeping on a cute guy or scanning through status updates, but nearly every single time I see her computer screen she’s staring at her own profile instead. When her own pictures, wall posts, and “About Me” section are spread across the screen I always wonder, “Why is she looking at herself? Narcissism maybe? Why would anyone need to look at their own Facebook profile?” 

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It took me awhile to figure it out; she was carefully and consistently maintaining her online reputation. The way she does it is like lightning. She clicks through her profile photos spending less than a second on each one. Sometimes I’ll see her slow down for a moment to delete a comment from a friend or hide a post. Taking Madden and Smith’s article into consideration, I have to ask, “Is creating our online identity just a matter of hiding certain things from some people, all while posting it for some others to see?”

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With more youth monitoring how they portray themselves on the Internet, it’s surprising when we see some of the shocking, news worthy examples of poor online reputation management:  

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Notice the dates? It happens pretty frequently.

Examples like these create more questions than they could possibly ever answer, but do you think these people were considering the consequences of how their thoughts and feelings would be portrayed? 

A big picture I got from the reading is that people post on social media networks for specific audiences. These disgruntled employees were most likely ranting not only to get their frustration out, but also to appeal to certain individuals who may have been able to relate to them. While plotting to burn down a boss’ house is a crime, other online self-portrayals are simply not intended for all to see. 

Examples like these again make me wonder about my roommate and her online portrayal. “Is she hiding certain things from me? Is she hiding the things that I do see on her profile from some other people?” 

Overall, I think online reputation management is based on how well one can hide things from people. It’s a tricky game though, hiding from some people while trying to reach out and communicate with others through the same social media network. I’m sure we all have our own specific examples where we hid something online to create an image of ourselves that we wanted. My own personal example: I’m currently debating taking down a photo of myself holding a root bottle. It’s totally innocent, I mean it is just root beer, but I don’t want to risk any misinterpretations especially since I’m job hunting.

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It’s impossible to tell who is watching us online. Regulating our online reputations by deleting comments or posts, limiting personal information, and thinking about how our photos will be perceived are active ways we can protect our privacy.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised when I find my roommate devouring her own Facebook profile with her eyes. Maybe we should all have a long look at our profiles and think about what we share with or hide from others.

I’ve asked myself this question, but now I’d like to ask you. Is managing an online reputation based on how well we can hide from certain people? Is it all just a matter of privacy? What do you think about the way you portray yourself through social media networks?

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2 Responses to Online Reputation Management: How Do I Hide this Facebook Status from My Boss…?

  1. I really liked your post, and it made me think about my own social media accounts. I think that managing an online reputation really just depends on what line of work you want to go in. I have a few Facebook friends who are looking to be models, club girls and such, so they have several pictures of them in scantily clad clothing, in swim suits, or even half-naked because they know that Facebook is an easy platform for a potential employer to find them. Others, like myself, are planning to go in a more professional line of work, so of course, there are certain things that shouldn’t be on our Facebook page. I personally don’t get on Facebook frequently, so whenever I do log on, I’m often surprised by the pictures that have been uploaded weeks and months prior and comments from old and new pictures. So just like your roommate, I have to spend a good hour or two, going through all of my pictures, reading all of my comments, seeing what type of posts and pictures that I’ve been tagged in to make sure that my profile is appropriate for potential employers.

    Although employers look at profiles and stuff, I personally think it is a bit of an invasion of property. I don’t think a person having a few pictures up of them partying or at a bar should speak for them as an employee, however, the truth of the matter is, is that it does. I had a friend who applied for an on campus job a couple of years ago, and when I talked to her about it and asked if she got it, she said that she didn’t. I was surprised because she had several on campus jobs before, so I asked her why, and she told me that the employer went on her Facebook page and saw several pictures of her hanging out at parties and with friends and drinking, and said “she seemed too much of a party animal to be considered for employment.” They judged her work ethic off of a couple of pictures and not off her resume and prior experience. Fair or unfair?? I say, unfair! Since then, she has did a page makeover and has deleted several pictures of herself, and has even gone as far as changing her name on her page, so she won’t be found under her government name.

    Lastly, when I look at my own personal accounts like Facebook and Twitter, I know I could do better with cleaning up my accounts. I have two Twitter accounts because my main Twitter account is definitely not appropriate with the things that I may tweet or retweet, and I don’t want an employer judging me off of that. But like I mentioned earlier, for the most part, I think that my Facebook page is pretty decent and appropriate. So all in all, to friends, I think that I portray myself to be a typical 21 year old who likes to hang out and have fun. To employers, I portray myself to be a college student who’s very studious and appropriate…which isn’t too far off from the real thing!!

  2. asg0323 says:

    First off, good writing, I felt like I was reading a real published online article. You raised some good questions with this blog post.
    I do believe managing our online reputations are based on how well we can hide from certain people. However, I don’t believe that to be true for everyone, just us (seniors in college, close to graduating and finding professional jobs soon). Just like you said, “It’s impossible to tell who is watching us online.” If it was ever an employer who was looking at our profiles, a lot of us would be screwed. That is why it is important that we manage our online reputations so that once we go on the job hunt we won’t be scrutinized for the beer in our hand in that one picture on Facebook.
    I’ll be honest, even I had a few pictures of me drinking beer on my 21st birthday, but after this lecture in class I took them down immediately.
    It’s not just a matter of privacy for me; it is about being as smart as I can about my professional future. I want to have a real job soon and I have to do everything I can to maximize my chances of achieving that. In this day and age that includes social media networks.

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