Today's world of communication has changed significantly since the explosion of social media sites likes FaceBook, Twitter and MySpace. It is not uncommon for someone to have 1,000 or more 'Friends' listed on their account. In fact, many strive to get in the hundreds of friend and consider it 'the norm'.
Then there are the posts. They vary in topics, from family photos to what one may have had for dinner. They may even express an opinion on a variety of topics. All seem harmless until this information is used against you.
More agencies are using social media sites to investigate individuals. A few months ago, I referenced a case in the New York Supreme Court where a woman claimed she fell off a chair that had a defective design and she suffered serious and permanent injuries. Her MySpace posts, including family travel photos, were used against her in the case as they contradicted the woman's claim that she was homebound.
More recent are seminars and webinars being offered on the ethics of using social media sites as a research tool. Research has even been done on potential jurors. Posts are used to get a more in depth view of how that person may react to a certain case type.
Would you pass a social Media background check? Employers are using these social media sites to research potential job applicants. The posted photos of one's heavy alcohol consumption or compromising photos may lead a potential employer to question your decision making or reliability to show up to work.
These sites can be great for business and expanding your network of friends but use common sense. If you have 1,000 friends, do you really know who these people are? Are you using your account for business or pleasure? This may be one area to reiterate that business and pleasure generally don't mix. Be critical of the photos or status' you post and how they may be perceived by others. Privacy settings should be utilized to ensure just that - your privacy.