I’m not anti-Facebook in any stretch of the imagination. I’m right there with every other student joining all the “It’s Mr. Tyler Hansbrough to you, Gerald Henderson” groups.

However I am someone who was presented with my Facebook profile when I interviewed for an internship last summer. Since then I have been amazed to see how college students seem to be so shortsighted. Facebook could potentially affect your job search! It is estimated that more than 90 percent of Carolina undergrads use Facebook, according to a study by Fred Stutzman, a Ph.D. student researching social networking at UNC-CH.

I have fun “poking” people and “untagging” horrendous pictures of myself. And if I was completely honest I’d admit that I actually enjoy the mini-news feed (though I was shocked when it came on the scene last year). And though I do not try to understand how people can stay on it for hours at a time, I sometimes find myself looking at the clock thinking, “Where did that past hour go?” Yet a telling statistic of this phenomenon is according to Marcia Harris, director of University Career Services, independent research has found that 15 percent of employers are now using or plan to use Facebook, MySpace or Google to look at potential employees.

Whether you think this is fair is irrelevant, the fact remains that employers do and will look up potential candidates in their job search. Employers want to minimize the risk of the employee they hire and that is why they seek additional info. And this means implications now for college students to safeguard their public image.

There are positive and negative aspects with Facebook, as with any technology. Countless articles have been written about Facebook and the implications of academic success, social development, privacy and safety; but the fact remains that more students need to be aware of all the information that we post is public and that employers are now judging students by more than just their resume.

When we sit in front of our computers, we somehow feel protected. Though it might seem private, Facebook is a public forum. It claims ownership to the content on its site. So just remember that what you post on each others’ walls (even if you delete it), the pictures you put up, the amount of pictures you put up, the groups you join and the information you share – all of these things matter to an employer.

Of course employers certainly know that students are just college kids (they were college kids once themselves) but they still question students’ judgment in allowing this information to be viewed publicly. Employers could potentially view this content as immature and unprofessional.

No, Facebook is not bad nor is it wrong. No, you should not delete all your online profiles. Facebook is actually very useful and a great communication tool.

But students need to be cautious and look at their Facebook profile from an outside perspective. Is this something you would want your grandmother, your parents or your pastor to see? If not, students should consider taking it off their Facebook page. A lot of people during their college years, parents included, do things that they do not want certain people to know about. But with the influx of the new information age, this information is readily available and not regulated so anyone and everyone can have access to it.

Facebook works sort of like a time capsule and you can’t get rid of digital history. Potential employers are out there. And just because Facebook has new privacy policies–that does not mean that other people with access to Facebook can not re-distribute your information elsewhere on the Internet.

– Tabitha Messick