6th Feb 2013
In the news this week we’ve seen yet more cases of individuals getting into hot water after being caught out on their social media exploits – we stop to question who else may be monitoring what we are up to?
Channel 4’s documentary “Don’t Blame Facebook” suggests ‘a silent revolution is taking place in offices, bedrooms and on the streets across Britain’ with an incessant desire to share intimate details with supposed friends; it seems the comfort of online anonymity makes particularly the younger generation overly confident with virtual strangers, usually to their detriment.
We’ve rounded up a series of social media slip-ups that serve to highlight the importance of managing your online presence carefully. Nobody is immune to the fact we live in a world where one can never be 100% sure who is looking at content placed in a public domain.
- Two friends, Lee Van Bryan and Emily Banting, travelling to the States became suspected of terrorism after boasting of their alcohol-fuelled party plans on arrival, having tweeted “Free this week for a quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?” On touchdown in America, the pair were detained and interrogated before being sent back to the U.K.
- Gareth Crosskey was jailed for 12 months after hacking into Selena Gomez’s personal Facebook page after posing as her step-father, convincing Facebook admin to alter ‘her’ log-in details. After slating her relationship online with celebrity Justin Bieber, replies from over 500,000 people came flooding in. The home of Crosskey was raided at 6am and all technology was removed from the property as evidence before he was convicted.
- Andrew Kellet posted over 90 videos on Youtube of himself street-racing over 120mph, police used it as a simple evidence-gathering exercise which lead to prosecution and an ASBO preventing him posting any videos on the platform for the next two years.
- Davey Taylor put himself at risk when becoming a ‘celebrity’ through his constant updates on Myspace, returning home after a night out he found himself faced with a stranger in his bed. The intruder used information posted on the Myspace profile to convince a housemate he was an old friend and to let him into the building.
Most recently Newsbeat reported on the increased risk to career prospects if care over content published on social media platforms is not taken. It is important to remember it is legal for employers to search for candidates’ personal profiles online; a job can be secured or lost based on what they find providing employers do not discriminate on race, gender or sexuality.
Katerina Rudiger from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) stresses the importance of checking your privacy settings on all platforms, adding “We all have nights out but it is best not to advertise it.”
- Kelly Doherty called in sick at work for two days whilst out gallivanting. She said: “My boss phoned me up two days later and asked, ‘Did I have a nice time?’ My workmate had grassed me up and all pictures were all over Facebook. I should have set my privacy settings.”
- Cameron Reilly, a ex-Royal Guard, took to Facebook to air his grievances regarding Kate Middleton before the Royal Wedding – she gave him a casual wave yet he felt his work efforts deserved more acknowledgement. Picked up by the MOD, they responded to his online outburst saying “In view of the nature of his allegation, it would not be appropriate for this individual to be on duty at the Royal Wedding.”
- Gary Paterson posed inappropriately in a many a picture taken on his tea break during a shift at Asda, after having uploaded the incriminating evidence to Facebook he found himself suspended from employment for two weeks.
- After single mums were allowed to compete as beauty pageant contestants for the first time in recent years, Charlie Campbell was said to have misrepresented the ‘brand’ after having a photographer shoot her in a glamourous, but not glamour model shots – contradicting the strict nudity ban on pageant portfolios.
Although extreme examples, they all serve a purpose in highlighting the importance of your choice of words and how easily they can be misinterpreted or twisted, potentially with serious consequences. It should make us all take a step back and contemplate how big an audience is being invited into our personal space online and to engage what you deem to be applaud-worthy.
Top tips on keeping yourself safe online:
- Keep your private life private – ensure your privacy settings are set correctly
- If your Gran would not approve, don’t post it. Chances are employers wouldn’t see the funny side either.
- Monitor your channels, check what friends are posting about you (e.g. untagged inappropriate pictures)
- Don’t hide away from having an online social presence, by not having any active profiles may do more harm during recruitment processes.
- Be proactive – Take the first step and engage with recruiters on the platform you feel best represents your professional nature