Everyone who is anyone these days, and even a few nobodies has some form of a social networking account. What qualifies? Everything from Facebook to LinkedIn, Myspace and Classmates.com. These days, everything seems to be about how many friends you have and who they might know, but have you ever thought about how social networking might negatively impact you life? Here are a few examples.
- Not only does your prospective employer Google you, but they might also look you up on the sites that I’ve mentioned. You might have innocent photos on there that your prospective or even current employer can deem unsuitable and they can decline to hire you or even fire you because of it. Don’t think so? Here is one example. And for all that is holy, assume everything that you write will be seen by your employer whether it is “private” or not.
- Did you know that your creditors also use social networks to find out if you’re a responsible customer, or even worse, if you owe a creditor money and have been dodging them, they can use these networks to find you? If you don’t already know the story about the “cute girl” that was actually a profile illegally created by a debt collection agency to fool people, read about that one Consumerist.That one really is illegal because it probably is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) which requires debt collectors to be truthful and treat debtors with fairness, dignity and respect. That and the fact that the fake profile now allows other people to know that you have an account under collections. Also be aware that your current creditors can evaluate your credit worthiness based on your the friends that you have in your social network, so be sure to “friend” Donald Trump, Oprah, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to be safe.
- Are you in the process of a divorce and you’re battling it out with the spouse over money? Our good friend, the social network, can really wallop your pockets this time. Did you know that attorney’s consider Facebook and other social media sites to be the best source of evidence in a divorce case? According to this article “66% of the lawyers surveyed cited Facebook foibles as the source of online evidence.” So if you’re telling your spouse that you don’t have money for alimony or child support and you post photos of you with your new BMW on Facebook (it’s happened), it can, and will be used against you.
- Finally, I present the case – there are more – where you could be sued for libel based on what you’ve said on your social network posts. Yes, you have the freedom of speech, but hate speech and things considered libelous are not protected. Even if you do win a suit brought against you, just think of the expense of having to pay a lawyer to defend you. This bring us to T & J Towing vs. Justin Kurtz. Justin might have won his case, but others have lost theirs, so think hard about what you say.
I know that I might be slightly paranoid, but just remember that the internet isn’t anonymous. Social networking can be great for landing you a job, connecting with friends all over the world, and sharing your life experiences with the people you love. Just be aware that every “friend” that you have does not always mean you well, and just because you deleted something, doesn’t mean that someone hasn’t screen captured your 2:00 a.m. rant.