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Shared: What does your Facebook page say about you?

His name is Daniel Hock. He is around 19 or 20 and he is studying English education at Boise State. He transferred to Boise State from the University of Puget Sound in May of 2011. He attended Meridian Technical Charter High School from 2008-2010, then transferred to Centennial High School, where he graduated in 2011.
Hock works for the Office of Sponsored Programs at Boise State as an office assistant. He  briefly worked for McDonald’s last summer.
What does Hock do in his free time? He likes movies, such as Idiocracy, Monty Python & The Holy Grail, Scott Pilgram Versus the World and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, to name a few.  His favorite line from the Harry Potter series is, “Not my daughter, you bitch!”
Hock likes Pokemon and Tortoro. If you were dating someone who didn’t like Pokemon, he would advise you to break up with them. He also likes video games and has owned an XBox 360, GameBoy, GameBoy Color, PlayStation and a Playstation 2. He likes role-playing games and plays them on the computer and on video games.
He does not remember where he was when 9/11 occurred, as he was probably about eight years old. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t lived a full life.  He has played in the rain, taken a road trip, hugged a tree, dyed his hair, broken someone’s heart and had a one-night stand. He’s been to Vegas, screamed as loud as he possibly could, and actually felt happy about his life, even for a moment. He’s called in sick when he wasn’t sick.  He’s ridden a roller coaster and made a complete and utter fool of himself. He’s said “I love you” and meant it.  He accepts himself for who he is.
Hock thinks the meaning of life is “to win the game” and “to be the very best, like no one ever was.”
Given the choice, he’d take a Coke over a Pepsi, and a PC over a Mac.
He has curly chestnut colored hair and wears glasses with gold frames. He lives in Boise.
How long have Hock and I been friends?  I have never met him.
All of this information was derived from his Facebook page. I didn’t request to be “friends” with him—everything here was public.
There’s nothing wrong with that, for the most part. Nothing on Daniel’s page alleged anything derogatory about him. His profile picture is a simple headshot. Other photos on his site are of places he’s visited, friends and some fun images of Totoro puppets.
Harmless enough. But what does your Facebook page say about you? Perhaps more importantly, what does your Facebook page say to strangers who may inquire about you?
Who would do that, you ask? You may be surprised to find out who checks you out on Facebook.
Some professors check your Facebook before they ever meet you in their class. Potential employers also meet you on Facebook before they bring you into their company. Why? It is easy to put on a pretty smile and go schmooze some people during an hour interview, but that often doesn’t show who you really are. So how are employers to find out?
They used to have to rely on their gut instinct, but now they have a more clever tool online. All of your pictures tell the story of you: how you spend your free time, how you REALLY dress, whether you are a partier who may or may not be reliable. Pictures of you drunk and wearing a hot pink mini dress at the party last weekend are really cool to you and your friends, but not so much to your future boss or school, and these days, you can bet they will be looking.
Makenzie Phillips, adjunct professor at Boise State, says your Facebook page can be a big deal. It can literally make or break opportunities for you. What you have on your Facebook page can be grounds for dismissal from your job, as companies consider you a representative of them when they hire you.  Scholarships have even been revoked based on information gathered from Facebook.
“People think that their Facebook profile is separate from their professional lives, but it’s not,” Phillips said. “Even with privacy settings, if someone is patient enough, they can get to your private page by back-channeling through your other friends.”
Facebook brings a new element to impression management, which is the way we want other people to see us.
“No one I know puts anything negative in their profile, but they do in their status,” said Kevin Skidmore, adjunct faculty in the Communication Department. “Your status changes all the time.”
There is also an increasing trend to have two different profiles on Facebook; one you share with your friends, which can usually be found under a nickname or your initials, and the one you share with your parents.
How much information you share publicly on Facebook can also present a potential security issue.
“Facebook stalking is an issue, and it is prevalent,” Phillips said. “Personal safety is an issue.” She relayed a story of a ring of break-ins in Denver last summer, and the one thing all of the victims had in common was that they posted on Facebook that they were going on vacation, and then posted photos of themselves out of town, a green light for the thieves who were looking for a vacant house.
Phillips said people need to be aware of the dangers of making their home address and cell phone numbers available on Facebook.
Hock lives in Boise, and that is all one could find out from his profile. But others identify what part of Boise they live in, down to the street. The information may seem harmless, but to someone creepy, it’s be a different story.
In an attempt to gain validation, a lot of younger people accept the friendship of people they don’t know on Facebook. People should always be thinking about the types of personal information strangers receive about them. Facebook is easy access.
Interestingly, it took several attempts to find someone willing to allow The Arbiter to publish information taken from their Facebook profile.  Many thought it creepy; yet, the information was there for the taking. The same information could be easily found by anyone, anywhere. So, if it’s available for anyone to see, is it really personal, private information, or is it public information?
Most people assume the only people browsing their profile are people they are friends with or who are potential friends. The truth is, that is not always the case.
Hock admitted to being perplexed.
“I think it is an interesting concept and I fully admit to looking up random people, like if I had a crush on them, to try to get a sense of who they are,” he said. “But I would never use that to judge who they are.  It’s only a fraction of their character.”
What’s a person to do to ensure the safety of his or her online identity? Phillips said if you are not connected to a social networking site, you are missing huge parts of people’s lives they expect you to follow through their Facebook posts. More and more people posts even huge life-changing event, such as marriages or births, to their Facebook pages instead of reaching out the old-fashioned way. These networks are how people communicate and stay connected with each other.
Phillips recommends those currently searching for a job take down Facebook pages completely for about six months. Even if you feel that you have a fairly clean page, you can never be sure what photos you have been tagged in on another person’s page.
If you feel you cannot live without your Facebook page for that long, then clean it up.
It’s part of the price of being connected: the entire world is now watching.


About Nicole Pineda (0 Articles)
Nicole Pineda is a senior at Boise State majoring in Communications with an emphasis on Media Productions. She aspires to become a broadcast journalist. Nicole is married and has 4 children ranging in age from 2 to 13. She is originally from Sacramento but was raised in Idaho and considers herself a native. She has lived in various places in Idaho, but has been a resident of the Treasure Valley for fifteen years. She enjoys cooking, camping, and working out in her spare time.