As the world and its dog seem to have their eyes fixed on what people get up to on social networking sites, it begs the question for many users how best to represent themselves online. Do you take the devil may care route, laying all the details of your life bare for all to see; the hide and seek approach, where you allow certain people access to certain kinds of information about yourself; or something in between?
One student, a third year in Philosophy, shares her views on why she feels an honest, but not too open, attitude to social networking is the way to go.
“I started using Facebook through word of mouth – someone said you can use it to get in touch with all your old friends and things like that.
I’ve got about 600 friends. They have to be someone I definitely know. I put up all the information about hobbies, music, what I’m doing in my degree – all my religious and political views, things like that.
My email address is on there. I have my phone number on there, but not where I live – because you might get stalkers and things like that! People who just turn up at your house that you don’t want to be ‘friends’ with. It’s to retain a degree of privacy, because Facebook isn’t a very private thing really.
I’ve never had any random phone calls or stalking. And I’ve never stalked anyone. I use privacy settings, so only my friends can access the information. I think the privacy things are quite easy to use. I do put pictures up – for the benefit of people that were also there – or sharing holiday pictures. If they don’t want to look at it, they don’t have to.
My parents are online, so I monitor what I put up on Facebook – I mean you can’t refuse a request from your parents to be your ‘friends’, but I remove things like pictures of me smoking, or lewd comments on my wall that I might not want them to see!
I could put them on a different list, but I don’t want to, because then they would think I was trying to hide things, and they would be all ‘why are you hiding things from us!’.
I don’t think they are looking to spy on me – I think they joined it for social reasons too. They’ve got in touch with a load of old friends as well. I hope it’s not just to check up on me, anyway. I don’t think they’ve stumbled across anything I wouldn’t want them to see – if they have, they haven’t said anything!
I am definitely more aware of things that I put on there, especially pictures. But I don’t worry that much, because I don’t get up to that much that would be frowned upon. There are no pictures of me sniffing coke, or anything that I would have to worry about.
I think it’s quite immature if you look at someone’s friends and judge them on that basis. I think people do do that, though, but it doesn’t worry me personally.
I do think about what my Facebook profile would say about me to potential employers if they should look at it, but again, I don’t think there’s really anything on mine that would count against me. There’s nothing controversial that could be a threat to a potential job.
I wouldn’t want to have separate profiles aimed particularly at employers, because I think that can look a bit false. I’d want an employer to know about me. If I were an employer, I would take more of an interest in someone who represented themselves honestly online – if they were a bit of a party-goer or whatever – because I would think it was more honest. Someone whose profile was basically just their CV would come across as really bland. And I would think they were trying to hide things – no one is that staid, so I would wonder what it was they were trying to cover up.
You can work out whether someone would fit into a team if you know a bit more about their personality, and you’re more likely to hire them than someone who appears to have no personality.
I don’t think you should be able to have your information passed on to third parties without your consent. And I don’t really agree with the change in terms and conditions on Facebook – you should retain control over your own data.”