Social Media: Facebook, Twitter and More
- What you say online is often public and can be visible for a long time
- Your online behaviour can have serious consequences for your life and career
- The law is still the law – even online
Social networking and your career
Social media can be a useful tool in your job search. Many recruiters have hired people because of the positive impression their social media profiles have made. You can also use your social networking activities to actively look for work.
A few extra tips:
- Employers often look up candidates’ profiles before they decide who to hire. Casual fun can be interpreted as unprofessional and prevent you from getting a job offer.
- Never discuss your job, colleagues or employers online, especially not in a negative way. As online discourse generates an automatic written record it is much more dangerous to your career than a verbal chat with a relative or trusted friend.
- Good spelling and grammar is desirable to employers. If your CV is perfect but your social networking presence is poorly written it could influence recruiters’ decisions.
Social media pitfalls
Social media creates a written, public record of conversations and events that might otherwise have been private, so there are some pitfalls to be avoided. It can be useful to know the University’s Social Media Policy.
Some things to consider:
- Restricted privacy settings can help protect your reputation, but beware that anything you post can be shared by others and quickly become public. If something is truly embarrassing, don’t post it in the first place, un-tag yourself, and/or ask friends to remove it.
- Be careful with your passwords! Someone else using your account, even as a joke, could be very bad.
- Drunken tweets, status updates and photos may be funny at the time, but won’t look very responsible later. If a party or other event is likely to generate the sort of photos and banter that might embarrass you later, keep the celebrations offline and encourage your friends to do the same.
- Use Reppler or another useful, reliable tool to get a general impression of your online reputation. Such tools can assist you – but don’t rely on just apps, or the hope that the internet will forget one day.
Social media and the law
Social media makes it easy for people to make mistakes. In particular, watch out for the following:
- Any statement which could have a negative impact on a person’s (or business’) reputation could lead to accusations of libel/defamation and lawsuits. Under UK law, if a person is accused of libel/defamation, the burden of proof is on them to prove that their statements are accurate. Legal proceedings are lengthy, stressful and expensive.
- It is easier than ever before to find, alter or share works which are copyright protected. Videos, music, pictures, written texts… but just because it is easy and there is no barrier to it, that does not make it legal. Be mindful of copyright.
- Jokes can have serious consequences when put in writing. In some instances, posting jokes that are in bad taste can lead to a prison sentence.
- Threats are treated extremely seriously. From ill-considered jokes about blowing up airports to posting entirely the wrong sort of Facebook event, “jokes” that appear to threaten national security have had dire consequences.
- Posting your thoughts, even when drunk, can in certain circumstances end up in a conviction, especially when what you post is racist or seriously abusive. The UK has some of the strictest enforcement in the world against so-called internet trolls and people who are abusive on Twitter and the world wide web. In Wales alone, hundreds of people have been arrested over reports of abusive online messages.
- There are other ways to get in legal trouble because of your online activities. The BBC’s Twitter users: A guide to the law outlines some that apply to all social networks, not just Twitter.
Social networking and bullying
As social networking sites are very informal spaces, one of their less pleasant aspects is that they aren’t always used in a positive way. Hurtful gossip, snide remarks and active, malicious bullying can occur online – just as they can occur outside cyberspace.
The University has a policy about bullying which equally applies to online bullying.
Social media and safety
See Online Safety for advice on staying safe online, and in social networks.