Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Foursquare, Livejournal, and Google+.Sometimes it seems like the possibilities really are endless, and a new network is always around the corner. Myspace is even making a comeback these days.
As the world becomes more plugged in and the Internet becomes an increasing aspect of daily life, people are using social media in more private and personal ways.
On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill prohibiting university officials and employers from requesting that students and job applicants give up their passwords to social media sites.
Cue the teenage and young adult rounds of applause.
But let’s hold the applause for a just second.
In today’s world, social media sites are used as virtual maps of life, where people list everything from their sexual orientation and religion, to their exact location moment by moment, to what they had for breakfast.
In a world where we claim that privacy is paramount, people actually share a lot of personal information on public forums.
Let’s think about this as well: These sites have so-called privacy settings, but they are not secure forums. Information could easily be gathered by someone who knows their way around a computer.
The information posted is not always innocent, either.
Social media sites (Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter especially, it seems) often turn into a sort of online journal. The problem is that, unlike a physical journal with a lock and key, the Internet is first and foremost a public entity. Once something is online, there really is no erasing it for good.
We’ve all seen our share of provocative pictures depicting drinking, drug use, sex, and the like. There have been incidents of people bashing employers in their Facebook statuses as well.
In that case, it may be a good idea for schools or employers to take a look under the “privacy” settings.
For instance, student leaders are often held to a higher standard, and those in charge of the students need to be sure that they are upholding that standard on a public level at the very least. The same may be true in the job market.
Social media sites are already part of the public forum by being on the Internet.
Let’s take the age-old adage and apply it here: If it’s something you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see, it probably shouldn’t be on the Internet.
To put it another way, if it’s something you don’t want your employer to see, does it really need to be posted up on Facebook?
There is also the case of people using social media sites as an outlet for potentially dangerous thoughts, either to themselves or others. University officials and employers may want—even need—to see what is going on.
In special cases, it may really be necessary for an employer or school official to see what is going on in the world of social media. It could be important, not only for the school or company, but to the person themselves or to those around them.