Despite statistics showing that more college admissions officers, as well as hiring managers, check applicants’ Facebook pages, many teenagers are still lax about social media security, continuing to post content that is detrimental to their online reputation. Michael P. Grace, president and CEO of Virallock, spoke with AllFacebook about the mistakes that high school and college students are making on Facebook and how they can clean up their acts for a better future.
Virallock works with users and companies that want to improve their Facebook reputations, ensuring that the most positive view is the one shown when someone clicks on the page. It is a social media counseling service that is focused on students and young professionals.
Grace told AllFacebook that too often, teenagers treat Facebook (and other social media sites) like something that’s just between their friends. As many people know, Facebook is global, and content can sometimes be seen by unexpected viewers. Posting party pictures or vulgarity in status updates has an effect on a person’s real-life reputation, Grace notes:
We hear about all of the other things that adults do that are hurting their careers or getting them fired from jobs and so forth, but as a father of two teenagers myself, the area that I was most concerned with was that of the young teenagers. They are making decisions at too young of an age that are having a long-term impact on them when they’re too young to recognize the consequences of what their actions are. They’re operating on these social media platforms as if they live in a bubble and no one can see it. They’re really missing an opportunity to brand themselves, to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
Grace has also seen teens creating fake profiles just to talk with their friends without fear of being caught. The other Facebook profile, with the user’s real name, has family-friendly content. However, that’s not quite a sound strategy, as the site is constantly cracking down on fake Facebookers.
Instead of using Facebook primarily as a communication device with friends (there’s Facebook messages for that purpose), Grace said students should use their profiles as secondary resumés. If a student is applying to a college and their application shows that they were involved in, say, Model U.N. or the choir, they should have some kind of evidence of their activities. Likewise, if volunteer work is mentioned, teens should make sure they have photos of that on their Facebook page. When a college admissions officer or a hiring manager sees a prospect’s Facebook page, they want to see evidence of positivity and accomplishments. Grace says taking this kind of approach can help young people stand out from their peers.
However, even the best-intentioned Facebook user falls victim to the tag. Many users tag friends in photos or status updates — an action that shows up on a user’s timeline without any action from them. Teenagers should tighten up their security settings to ensure that any tags must be approved. Additionally, Grace said users should talk with friends who post unsavory content on their behalf. If this persists, teens may want to consider breaking off the Facebook friendship.
Readers: How do you improve your Facebook reputation?
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