Social media security: protecting your privacy online

This is the first in a series of articles on how to protect your privacy online focusing on email and Facebook

You’re just about to graduate and start your job search in a time where people often share the most intimate details of their private lives on public forums that are easily searchable by new employers.

In some cases, employers may want to know you’re active on social media, if it applies to the job, while other recruiters may scour networking sites to pre-screen applicants to see if they present themselves ‘professionally’. There have even been reported cases of employers being so bold as to ask new hires to provide their Facebook passwords.

While most of the horror stories where employment and social media collide tend to come from the US, there is no harm in taking steps toward ensuring your privacy online. Flurries of privacy violations have caused some to swear off social media sites all together, but you don’t have to choose between never touching Facebook again and having a few details hidden from prying eyes. Being aware of privacy policy changes and being vigilant about the content you post will allow you to sleep soundly after you’ve sent off your first batch of job applications.

Step 1: Email

It seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how few people realise it: always create a separate email for professional use or take advantage of your university’s alumni email service.

Checking more than one email may sound like a headache but with email forwarding and multiple account access, it can be fairly easy. If you use Gmail, it’s as simple as creating a new account, setting up a forwarding system in your new account, and then going back to your main account and associating the accounts so you can send mail from your new professional email. While it may seem like a hassle, depending on how long you’ve used your personal email and what you’ve used it for, that alone can be enough for incriminating evidence, especially if you’ve had the same personal email for years.

At the end of the day, it’s much better if your potential employer googles "john.doe67@gmail.com" and finds nothing than if they google "raddoeboy@gmail.com" and find your personal email in the members list of "Hot Skateboarding Babez Weekly".

Step 2: Facebook

Facebook has the benefit of allowing you to control your privacy with almost every single post or make universal rules that apply to everything you do on the site. So, if your Facebook has been an open book, you still have the ability to close it. All you have to do is click the arrow in the corner of the page and head to "Privacy Settings".

Now, there are several things of which to be aware. Setting your profile to "Friends Only" does not mean that employers won’t be able to search and find you. It is worth noting that some of things you participate in may show up on your public profile, even if your profile is set to "Friends Only". So, say a potential employer looks you up on Facebook and can’t see your wall (and therefore won’t notice how often you play Words With Friends!) they may be able to see a public poll question you answered about how often you like to get wasted, because some of the activities you do will show up on your profile regardless.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide exactly what privacy level works for you. You could choose to have two separate accounts, one public and one private, or you could opt to go by a different name (both of which might get you in trouble with Facebook). Alternatively, you could make yourself unsearchable, restrict who can add you as a friend, make sure you have to approve all of your tags, and even sort your friends into groups. If you have to add employers or work-related people, consider adding them to a list and then, when posting anything you don’t want them to see, hit "Custom" for settings and type the group name in the "Hide this from" list.

Making yourself unsearchable should do the trick to keep employers’ prying eyes at bay. If you want to double check what’s viewable, make sure you have a username set up under Account Settings, sign out, and then go to your account. If your account is properly locked, it should say: "This content is currently unavailable".

Lola Olson is Social Media Manager for Find Invest Grow.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Nursery Nurse

£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: Nursery Nurse Leeds November start...

EBD LSA required - Vale of Glamorgan

£60 - £65 per day + plus free travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The J...

EBD Teacher - Food Technology Specialist

£100 - £181 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: The JobTo plan and deliver all ...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker