If you're one of the growing throng of over 25's who have jumped on the Facebook wagon, chances are the popular networking site has become as much a part of your work routine as that cup of java. While there are companies that restrict personal use of company time and resources, it's also likely that your network of "friends" on Facebook or MySpace includes business associates as well as personal friends and family members.
Andrea Coombes, in an article in Marketwatch, notes, "People on these sites are now sharing more inside information with people who, before, they may have only passed the time of day with."
Fancy the thought of a co-worker knowing your sexual preferences? Not likely - although your preference for Coldplay and Indian food may be safer to share, and even lend your colleagues a very cool peek into who you really are.
Just as there are degrees of intimacy we assign to the friends and acquaintances - and even members of our own family - who make up our real-life world, so are there ways of keeping our offline lives separate from who we are at work. To protect both your reputation and aspects of your personal life that you wish to keep private, consider the following.
Both Facebook and MySpace have privacy settings that can be customized. Look into limiting aspects of your profile to your work colleagues, while allowing your roommate from college open access to all parts of your site.
Choose your network: if you're posting opinions on personal topics in any open forums, make sure your declarations don't cast a negative light on your employer. It makes more sense in cases like this to align yourself with a geographical network, rather than a business network.
Be discreet about your personal plans and details. Younger Facebook users may be more casual about announcing their weekend plans, yet there's value in being selective about who knows that you'll be out of town. If you must update people, tell them once you're back. Ditto for posting such details as your home address and phone number.
In a recent blog post by Facebook's Chief Privacy Officer, Chris Kelly advises, "Whether you're a minor or an adult, you should learn how to be smart online," and get to know the site's privacy options.
Another article on social networking on the job:
Social Networking at Work
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