So Much Racier Online
February 26, 2009 12:39 PM   Subscribe

Facebook Security: Are there reliable security settings for Facebook so that I can talk about my job to my friends network without worrying about others seeing it?

I enjoy talking about my job on my LiveJournal -- but I keep all names out of it, and it's friends-locked, so I'm not too worried. Recently, I've started up a Facebook account under my real name. My network of friends on that quickly mushroomed, including a great many who don't have LJ accounts.

I frequently read about people who've been fired because of stuff on Facebook -- either their own posts, or because of things others have posted that can get back to them. I don't want to be that guy.

FWIW, I'm a teacher. I'm personally so squeaky-clean that I would probably make Captain America jealous. I'm very blunt about my job, though, which is at times very silly and patently ridiculous. My friends circle outside of work includes a sizeable number of green-hair-nipple-rings-Pagan-sex-positive types.

What are my options for controlling my online life? Am I basically just rolling the dice even if I keep things listed as "friends only?"
posted by scaryblackdeath to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Am I basically just rolling the dice even if I keep things listed as "friends only?"

Yes. You can control who sees what you post, but you can't control what they do with it. Anything that you commit to print can be copied, pasted, and distributed far beyond your FB network in a few moments no matter how assiduously you maintain your privacy settings. If you are posting things that you worry might get you fired if the wrong people read them, the simple answer is: don't post them to FB.
posted by googly at 12:50 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

While you can certainly fine-tune your Facebook permissions (with the caveat googly mentions), why not just keep your work-related postings on LiveJournal?

Your Facebook friends really don't care about your work as much as you might think they do.
posted by JaredSeth at 12:52 PM on February 26, 2009

I'm very blunt about my job, though, which is at times very silly and patently ridiculous. ... Am I basically just rolling the dice


I would never criticize my job on the web. Period.

Fiddle with the security settings all you want, but you never know when you'll overlook some way someone might see it who you'd rather didn't see it.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:00 PM on February 26, 2009

Allfacebook recently documented a security flaw allowing anyone to see photos that are supposedly "private"—the fourth such flaw exposed in about a year. The good news is that Facebook seems to address these flaws quickly when they're exposed. The bad news is, well, it was the fourth one in a year.

Also, take a close look at the Facebook TOS—you give Facebook permission to show anything you post to anyone, regardless of privacy settings. While it's unlikely that FB would deliberately publically expose something you marked as friends-only, because it would be very bad PR, they could if they wanted to. Or if it happened accidentally, you wouldn't have any legal recourse (most likely).

I think you need to take into account not only the likelihood that the material would be made public, but also the effect it would have if it did. If it's mildly embarrassing stuff that would get you a few days' worth of ribbing from your colleagues if it got out, I'd take a chance and post it. If it would irreparably harm your career if it got out, no way I'd post it. (Note: "getting fired" may or may not be a significant enough potential impact to prevent you from posting it, depending on how much you value your current job.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:13 PM on February 26, 2009

I have no idea, but I am of the philosophy that if you wouldn't say it to your employer, then don't put it on cyberspace, no matter how secure you believe a site to be. Naked pictures of you or bitching about your workplace is fair game to some savvy hacker, and to me, it just doesn't seem worth the risk. I post nothing that I wouldn't mind the CEO of my company viewing, including pictures, blogs, lists, comments, etc. I am still able to vent about work-related issues, but I keep those to phone conversations or relatively innocuous emails (meaning no implications, badmouthing, etc.). I may be paranoid, but you always hear of crazy stuff getting out there and all of the sudden there's another scandal.

Just my two cents.
posted by cachondeo45 at 1:15 PM on February 26, 2009

You also never know when someone will accidentally publicly post a response to one of these private postings. This has happened by accident to friends of mine who posted privately about job-hunting and had friends of theirs post well-meaning public replies like "Good luck on finding a new job! Let me know if I can help!"

I wouldn't post anything negative about my job online.
posted by cadge at 1:23 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

As others have said, Facebook is far from secure. There are so many ways for information on your profile to leak out.
posted by chunking express at 1:37 PM on February 26, 2009

It's also worth noting that many of the reasons mentioned here for not posting such things to Facebook (especially that a "friend" could copy the information and post it themselves, and that the TOS allows them to display your posts publically even if you've marked them as friends-only) apply equally to LiveJournal.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:44 PM on February 26, 2009

Keep it on your livejournal and keep it entirely disconnected from your name. I mean, what if one of your friends finds your story funny and forwards all over the place like that Korean investment banker who bragged about all the chicks he was banging.

Maybe your stories aren't that interesting, but still, Facebook posts will always be associated with your "real name" and you never know when Facebook might change some settings or screw something up, they have not been very careful with the data they do have.
posted by delmoi at 1:49 PM on February 26, 2009

Ask yourself this question: Is each and every friend I have on Facebook such a close personal friend that I trust them implicitly, and consider their friendship more important than my job?

Then ask the same question about Livejournal.

Personally, I'm with the "don't post anything about your job online" crowd.
posted by mmoncur at 3:48 PM on February 26, 2009

Am I basically just rolling the dice?

Oh god yes. And FYI you'd be amazed how high some seemingly innocuous searches can turn up Metafilter links as the first result.

Just so you know.

There's stuff I posted "privately" on the 'net in 1990 this is publicly available and there's no chance I'll ever get rid of it. Post sober.
posted by Ookseer at 4:05 PM on February 26, 2009

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