Love it or hate it, Facebook is enormous. Since it has roughly one billion users, we are often lulled into a false sense of anonymity. Why would anyone notice your little page when there are millions and millions of others to choose from—probably with much more interesting content too?
Every time you apply for a job, take on a new client, make a new friend, or date a new person, you can bet they are going to check you out on Facebook. It’s the easy and quick go-to place for amateur private detectives — and you’d better make sure they cannot dig up anything that you’ll wish they hadn’t.
Not convinced? Here are five very good reasons for cleaning up your Facebook page ASAP and preventing irrevocable damage to your Internet reputation.
Your Farmville Skills Will Get You Nowhere.
Everyone is guilty of wasting time at some point in the day, but nobody wants a potential employer to know just how much time you dedicate to online games. Chopping down computer-generated trees, popping colored bubbles, and amassing a fortune in one-dimensional clothing will impress no one. In fact, it will likely create the impression that you have nothing better to do with your time—and, quite frankly, that is sad.
Remove game requests and news feeds relating to your online gaming activity. Worried that you won’t receive the requisite amount of energy boosts, supplies, or coins from your fellow farmers, knights, or bingo players? Get over it. Landing the job of your dreams is much more important.
Frenemies May Be Lurking.
It is nice to be polite and sensitive to the feelings of others; however, there comes a time when one has to say “enough already.” Nowhere does it say that we must accept every friend request that comes our way. Nor do we have to maintain our friend list after it’s reached a staggeringly high number.
Accepting friends that you barely know or, in some cases, don’t even like leaves you open to all sorts of potential problems. Not only does your newsfeed become unmanageable, but you may also find inappropriate or unsavory posts and photo tags. Your alcoholic college buddy may think it’s great fun to post tagged pictures of you in your younger days—passed out in a drunken stupor with your eyebrows shaved off and a magic marker mustache lovingly sketched across your upper lip. This, however, is not going to impress a potential employer or client.
Learn to say “no” and refuse these unwanted friendship requests. And weed out your current Facebook friend roster—it should include only those that you consider a friend in real life.
A Picture Can Say 1,000 Bad Words.
Potential employers seek employees who conduct themselves in a professional manner — and a myriad of drunken photos does not exude professionalism.
Thoroughly scour your photo albums to ensure that no one has tagged you in photos containing alcohol or its after-effects. Remove the tags from any photos that may harm your Internet reputation. If the photos are yours, delete them from your profile completely. There’s nothing wrong with having a wild and crazy Friday night — just don’t advertise it.
You Haven’t Given Wall Space to the Right People.
Reward the suck-ups. Everyone has a select group of Facebook friends that are ultra supportive and very free with compliments—the type of people that portray you in a very positive light. Use this to your advantage. With friends like this, you are less likely to make enemies—and much more likely to impress the amateur detectives that are checking you out.
How do you handpick the friends that will show up on your timeline? It’s easy. Simply visit the “friends” box in your profile page. Check the box beside “Always show these friends” and voila — you have a timeline filled with cheery, positive, butt-kissing people.
You May Need to Eat Your Words.
Scour your wall for old posts that illustrate the “open mouth, insert foot” adage. If you said your ex-girlfriend was as passionate as a body pillow, delete it. Comments about your former boss’ IQ must also go. These “slips of the typing finger” will only repel people that you want to attract.
Delete anything that doesn’t portray others—and, in turn, you—in a positive way. Dirty jokes, sexual innuendos, and racial slurs are definite no-nos. It may take a while to sift through pages of comments, but it will be worth it if you land the job or pick up some new clients. The benefits to a spotless Internet reputation are endless.
Facebook may be a fun place to chat with friends, post photos and play games, but your Facebook activity also reveals a great deal about you. Be mindful of what your Facebook activity says about you—especially to someone who is meeting you for the very first time. And, for some people, having no Facebook account at all is a viable option.
Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer, novelist, and blogger who loves to use writing as a tool to educate and entertain.