Baby boomers, generation X, and the Millennials are all joining social networks like Facebook to reconnect with old friends, network, meet new people, and stay connected to their current friends. However, the generation gap has caused friction regarding what pictures are fair game to post on the network. Baby boomers assume that all of the old photos of them at parties in college are hidden away in a basement somewhere safe from the eyes of others, while Millennials assume that any picture taken with a digital camera will eventually end up online. What happens when old, incriminating photos are scanned into a social network? Here are a few tips on how to handle an employer that finds old photos of you on Facebook.
Minimize the Damage
Unfortunately, with everyone joining social networks, it is likely that old, incriminating photos will be posted somewhere. With employers and coworkers all connected through social networks, sometimes the best thing to do is minimize the damage. On Facebook, one option is to explain away the photo in a comment. This way, anyone that sees the photo will also see your explanation underneath it. Another way is to simply be up front with your employer about old pictures that have been posted. Most employers understand indiscretions made during college, as long as that behavior is still not going on.
Separate Work and Play
Facebook is most known for social interaction. However, some networks are designed especially for professional networking, such as LinkedIn. One option for avoiding having an employer see incriminating photos of you is to use Facebook with old and current friends outside of work, and use LinkedIn for coworkers and employers. Unless your employer is friends with one of your friends on Facebook, they should not be able to see anything about you. This will prevent ever having to explain away past indiscretions.
As a last resort, a picture that has been posted can be removed by the person who posted it. So, if a photo is so bad that it cannot be explained away, you may consider asking the person who posted it to remove it. This however, is generally not an acceptable request on Facebook, especially if you have made taunting comments on the incriminating photos of others. The current generation basically assumes that pictures are fair game. However, as a last resort, this could be something that you could tell your employer in order to explain away the photo.
Use the Privacy Settings
Most social networks, including Facebook, have privacy settings. This will allow a person to minimize what information is shared with other people. If you post a picture of yourself on Facebook, you can determine you sees it. However, if someone else posts a picture of you on Facebook, you will only be able to minimize how it is distributed among the networks. While this is not a full-proof way of preventing an employer from seeing old incriminating photos of you, it is at least one more way to make that less likely.
Social networks can be great tools to help friends keep in touch or to meet new people. Nevertheless, in the professional world, old photos can be incriminating. If there are incriminating photos of you floating around Facebook, there is a chance an employer will see them. However, by taking a few precautions, it is possible to prevent this from happening.