Social networking sites have been around for many years and their various functions allow users to meet new people, rekindle old friendships and even find a job. In our generation with the strong influence of the internet, social media sites that are meant for personal use often go beyond their intended purpose. With the increased use of these sites, is it possible to maintain the division between personal and professional use?
Recently, the popular social media site Facebook changed their users’ profiles into “timelines,” which allow users to include every detail about themselves. The information listed on a Facebook user’s timeline ranges from a trip they took to their professional career. Many users take advantage of the new timeline format and list every single detail about themselves. This makes sites like Facebook multifunctional. Many social media sites also enhanced their privacy settings so that users can customize it to their preferences. Users can choose the people to whom they want to show their personal information. Most users think that the privacy settings created by these social sites are enough to hide their personal life from everyone, but that’s not always the case. For example, many colleges look at their applicants’ social media profiles, but it is usually not part of the deciding factor.
Sophomore engineering major Sajid Amir said, “I listed my birthday and other information, but not very specific because there are still ways for other people to see your personal information.” Amir also said that it is “better to be safe than sorry.” Many students also do not use their real last name on their profiles so it will be harder for them to be found. Although this strategy works, it is still better to choose the information that you are comfortable sharing with others. Users should not post their addresses, phone numbers and inappropriate comments on social media sites. Senior communications major Zakiya Fulton-Anderson said, “It’s hard to use social networking and not be tempted to include one’s own professional information on their site. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn actually encourage users to include professional information on their profiles. As time goes on, and as developers come up with cooler and better ways to include both personal and professional information on social media sites, it will become more and more difficult to avoid including professional info on these sites … unless someone works for the CIA.”
If users put their professional information on their profiles, they are responsible for monitoring what they are posting and saying on the internet. Many would say that eventually we will be able to separate personal and professional uses on these sites, but the responsibility is on the user. In addition, there are also positive outcomes from connecting our personal and professional information on these sites. Many people communicate effectively on social media sites because it is more convenient for them instead of checking their email. Nevertheless, users should enjoy the use of such sites, but make sure that they feel safe and comfortable sharing their information.