Don't listen to the doubters: Facebook is your friend

The scare stories have it wrong; Facebook is a force for openness and accountability in the world, argues Eduard Mead.

Facebook has firmly embedded itself into the university lifestyle, sitting proudly alongside binge drinking and promiscuity as an easy target for journalists on a slow news day. The general focus of these articles is either that Facebook consumes far too much time which could be better spent on studies, or that students are recklessly throwing away future job opportunities as a result of what they upload to their Facebook.

Is it really all that bad? When Christine Lagarde addressed the World Economic Forum on 23 January, she said that if Facebook and Twitter were countries, they would be the third and fourth largest in the world respectively. She then asked what this says about the aspirations of young people. What values do students draw from these two social media giants? Lagarde said it came down to three things: openness, inclusiveness and accountability.

Perhaps the rise of Facebook is a product of a collective growing self-confidence amongst young people - or maybe the reverse is true; but what we can be certain of is that this shift is having a profound impact on business attitudes and relations across the world. This is something we should welcome. The young workers of tomorrow are shunning the stuffy, functional workplace relationships of the past, in favour of more open, personal relationships with not only their colleagues but also the companies which employ them. Students are quite literally transferring the skills they acquire and utilise when making contacts in the real world, to the online world.

A lot is said about the dangers of having a strong social media presence. Some of it is valid, but most is unfounded. The world is changing, and people now have the chance to sculpt and refine their online image to best suit their goals and aspirations, a chance which was previously available only to those with the time and money to build their own personal homepage.

Photos are perhaps the most discussed ‘danger’ of Facebook, with employers warning that compromising photos can jeopardise the chances of any significant contract, but is that really the case? If so, will it always be the case? Within ten years we will have a generation that has grown up on Facebook, completely used to sharing masses of personal information with their online followers, in positions of power in the companies that now view Facebook with suspicion.

Employers know that their employees have lives outside of work, to suggest otherwise is ridiculous. Although giving your boss or a future employer access to a stream of drunken photos might be somewhat ill-judged, unless it has any direct connection to an offence committed in work, then it should hardly be a sackable offence, or a genuine reason to withhold employment from an individual; in the same way that seeing your boss out in a pub would not instantly result in you receiving your P45.

A lot of the examples used to warn of how professionally damaging Facebook can be refer to occasions where employees have skipped work and posted/tweeted about these experiences. Quite frankly, that kind of stupidity is not a fault of Facebook, but of the individual's judgement which would land them in trouble even without Facebook. Of course, most university students, being the highly intelligent bunch that they are, wouldn’t dream of making such an error of judgement....

To return to Lagarde, Facebook represents a new era in business relations, one which is driven by the students of today. It's a more open world, with honesty at its core; lies are hard to disguise when you have perhaps 400 contacts 'peer-reviewing' your every status (no, you really didn’t 'spend £100 on drinks last night', stop trying to show off).

It also heralds the start of a more inclusive world; no longer is networking confined to the upper classes; through Facebook and other dedicated networking websites like LinkedIn, it has never been easier for students to connect with future employers, increasing social mobility on a scale that those behind the HS2 network can only dream of. Future employers who, for the first time, have the luxury of being able to access a mass of information on prospective employees, enabling them to make an informed decision and reinforce the idea that workers are human beings too.

Finally, we’re moving towards a world which isn't afraid of accountability; Facebook should only be feared by those with something to hide, or those who feel they need to present a distorted view of themselves in order to achieve professional success. Businesses are learning to embrace social networks and online marketing; something which will improve rapidly as the university students of today grow and find themselves in positions of authority within these firms.

Eduard Mead is an SBA for the i paper and aspiring economist studying at Sussex University. He blogs at Follow him on Twitter.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software Developer

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Software Developer i...

AER Teachers: Graduate Primary TA - West London - Autumn

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: The school is seeking gra...

AER Teachers: Graduate Secondary TA - West London

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: The school is seeking gra...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Surrey - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Croy...

Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent