I am active on many social media sites to look for work, network and keep current in my profession as an accountant. However, I have not posted my photo. I am worried about my privacy and confidentiality, especially since I am currently employed. Displaying my face and extensive personal information on the web scares me. Also, I also know that the photos often lead to biases and discrimination as recruiters based their first impressions and sometimes the final hiring decision on the profile pictures.
What are your thoughts regarding my social media photo-phobia?
Signed: Photo-phobic (PP)
Practising safe social media networking is the best way around your concerns. Discrimination, stereotyping and biased recruitment and hiring practices will always occur in the labour market, regardless. Even a person’s name or the languages they speak listed on the resume can lead to discrimination in hiring practices.
Posting a professional photo on your social media profile is standard practice these days. I have found an excellent list of how to practice “safe social networking” to help you order to avoid unwanted attention as well as the danger of having a false sense of anonymity and security.
1. Don’t post inappropriate material.
This can lead to problems ranging from earning strikes against you from a potential employer, to much more serious encounters with predators and criminals. Think carefully before posting your personal information (things like your phone number, email address, home address, name and age). Any posting you might consider to be a joke can be taken seriously by a potential employer. Remember, the web can make a strong first impression. If others post inappropriate material of you on their site, such as Facebook, and tag you, remember to untag any unwanted material.
2. Consider using the strongest privacy account settings.
All sites have privacy settings to help you with the confidentiality issues. Secure your personal information thoughtfully. Think of who and where your information will find your information. Different social media sites require different levels of privacy — for example, Facebook, which includes personal information, needs to be more private, while LinkedIn, which is more professional, should be as public as possible. Use Google to search your name and image. The results are what potential employers as well as anyone else on the Internet might see if they Google you. Try to ensure there is nothing online that you don’t want others to see.
3. Limit your personal information and never post your whereabouts.
Avoid posting information such as your full name, home address, phone numbers, email address, instant messaging names, age, or birth date publicly to prevent identity theft. Be aware that everything that was posted on the web may be downloaded and saved by other parties.
4. Be selective about who you accept as a friend on a social network.
Identity thieves might create fake profiles in order to get information from you. This is known as social engineering.
5. Be aware of who can see your pictures and comments.
Think about the possible reactions of your potential employers, parents and relatives before posting. Never post provocative pictures of yourself or anyone else, and be sure any images you provide do not reveal any of the previously mentioned information. Always remember to look at the background of a picture too.
Assume what you write or post on a social networking site is permanent. Even if you can delete your account, anyone on the Internet can easily download or print the information or save it to a computer.
6. To avoid giving away email addresses of your friends, be careful about allowing social networking services to scan your email address book.
When you join a new social network, you might receive an offer to enter your email address and password to find out who else is on the network. The site might use this information to send email messages to everyone in your contact list or even everyone you’ve ever sent an email message to with that email address. Social networking sites should explain that they’re going to do this, but some do not. LinkedIn, for example, explains its contacts policy here.
7. Be careful about installing extras on your site and delete unused widgets.
Many social networking sites allow you to download third-party applications that let you do more with your personal page. Criminals sometimes use these applications in order to steal your personal information. To download and use third-party applications safely, take the same safety precautions that you take with any other program or file you download from the Web.
Best of luck,