Social media can be problematic for students

By Robert Burns, Contributing Writer

A recent college graduate appears to be the perfect candidate for an entry-level job. His resume is perfect, his grades are top-notch, and he aces the interview, yet the job goes to another candidate.

The reason? He spoke negatively of former employers on Facebook.

This is becoming a problem for more and more young adults who use social media platforms. However, a new California law could provide students with a clean slate. The law would require social media sites to ensure that posts made by someone under the age of 18 can be erased from their profile.

In recent years there have been countless examples of people being fired for something they posted online. Caitlin Davis, an 18-year-old cheerleader for the New England Patriots, was fired in 2008 because she posted risqué photos to Facebook.

In 2009, Dan Leone was fired from his job at Lincoln Financial Field Stadium in Philadelphia for criticizing former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins, who had recently signed with the Denver Broncos. This was after he deleted the post.

Patsy Caropresi, a senior career specialist at the college, said social media regret is quite common.

“A large percentage of the employers I talk to look at social media for prospective hires,” she said.

Anything from supporting a certain particular political view to showing provocative photos on your timeline can get you fired. The laws have not caught up to the technology, thus creating a gray area where an employer can use this information as a filter for new hires.

The new California law is intended to provide some privacy as students enter the job market.

Opponents believe the bill doesn’t go far enough. They said the real problem is that posts, once uploaded, spread like wildfire across the internet, and this bill does nothing to put those fires out.

Students seem to understand why social media research is performed by employers, but they also value their privacy.
“I think they should be able to look at some stuff,” student Manuel Cuevas said. “But they should limit what employers can look for.”

Student Monica Covarrubias disagrees.

“It is your privacy,” she said. “If it is not your friend, then they shouldn’t have access.”

Some students see a correlation between what a student posts and their work ethic.

“The way an employee represents themselves outside of work should reflect how they represent themselves inside of work as well,” student Marissa Rodriguez said.

Others don’t believe that the way people act in social situations mirrors how they act in a professional setting.

“Just because people are posting questionable things on Facebook doesn’t mean they are a bad employee,” student George Jalloh said.

However, there are studies that say the opposite might be true.

According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Social Sciences, there is some correlation between candidates who post about drugs and alcohol or have violent outbursts on Facebook and how they perform at their job. However, the study also noted a correlation between people who had a lot of Facebook friends and extroversion, which most employers see as a positive employee trait.

“Employees should protect themselves by being mindful of what they post,” Caropresi said.

Caropresi suggested students get a LinkedIn account for business. Even if they don’t have a long resume, they can put their major, GPA and classes on their profile for employers to view.

She also suggested that students should Google themselves, as employers often do.  If negative information comes up on another website, they can contact the website managers and politely ask them to remove the content.

Deleting a personal Facebook page is also an option, but many students said they are reluctant to lose their Facebook connections.

“I wouldn’t delete my Facebook because I use it to talk to my family,” Covarrubias said.

Social media is a new technology that is constantly evolving. However, laws to protect job-seekers’ information from employers has  just begun to catch up. The new California law is the first step in a long walk for lawmakers.

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