How social media can cost you your job and your reputation

Social Media Job Losses
Image: New York Times. Photo Illustration by James Wojcik. Prop Stylist: Megan Caponetto

Here's a quick question: if you have been regularly posting pictures, comments, posts or other personal information since the advent of Facebook or MySpace, how pure is your online reputation?

Then consider this: Tom Anderson started MySpace in January 2003. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook in February 2004. Seven years is an eternity on the Internet, so again, how pure is your online reputation?

Jeffrey Rosen has written a great article on the perils of exposing your data publicly via social media - The Web Means the End of Forgetting. In a nutshell, as he writes - "..the Internet records everything and forgets nothing.."

Here's an extract:
Technological advances, of course, have often presented new threats to privacy. In 1890, in perhaps the most famous article on privacy ever written, Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis complained that because of new technology — like the Kodak camera and the tabloid press — “gossip is no longer the resource of the idle and of the vicious but has become a trade.” But the mild society gossip of the Gilded Age pales before the volume of revelations contained in the photos, video and chatter on social-media sites and elsewhere across the Internet. Facebook, which surpassed MySpace in 2008 as the largest social-networking site, now has nearly 500 million members, or 22 percent of all Internet users, who spend more than 500 billion minutes a month on the site. Facebook users share more than 25 billion pieces of content each month (including news stories, blog posts and photos), and the average user creates 70 pieces of content a month. There are more than 100 million registered Twitter users, and the Library of Congress recently announced that it will be acquiring — and permanently storing — the entire archive of public Twitter posts since 2006.

The article is 14 pages long so let me summarize some pertinent points.
  • 75 percent of U.S. recruiters and human-resource professionals report that their companies require them to do online research about candidates

  • 70 percent of U.S. recruiters report that they have rejected candidates because of information found online

  • They scour search engines, social-networking sites, photo- and video-sharing sites, personal Web sites and blogs, Twitter and online-gaming sites

  • Web sites like LOL Facebook Moments, collect and share embarrassing personal revelations from Facebook users

  • In traditional societies the limits of human memory ensure that people’s sins are eventually forgotten

  • A society in which everything is recorded “will forever tether us to all our past actions, making it impossible, in practice, to escape them" - Viktor Mayer-Schönberger

  • The permanent memory bank of the Web increasingly means there are no second chances

  • The worst thing you’ve done is often the first thing everyone knows about you


  • If you still feel certain that your online reputation is intact you may want to read the article and perhaps reconsider. And if you feel unsure then you can always turn to a company such as ReputationDefender, who will work to erase your online failings rather like a credit repair company. At a cost of course. How much is your online reputation worth?