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Separating the white collar from the weekend: A Guide to Facebook Privacy

The current leader of the social networking pack, Facebook, hit a nerve with “Beacon” in 2007.  Although privacy issues abound any time you begin sharing information on the Internet, people actually paid attention when Facebook’s Social Ads began appearing on profiles without users’ consent.  Since that time, Facebook has made great strides in allowing users to lock down their profiles, and limit the information shared.  More recently, these adjustments may be applied to specific friend segments, allowing group access control permissions across nearly every sharable attribute.  Since only a googledork would leave everything in the default settings, one of the Ars Technica contributors, Jacqui Cheng, covers the intricacies of Facebook’s user protections.

While another social networking site geared for business, LinkedIn, is trying to expand its scope past online resumes and network introductions with new beta features such as job listings and company information, many professionals have begun expanding Facebook’s reach past the under 30 ranks by friending their co-workers.  Wired magazine’s July issue suggests Facebooking is even a requirement at the office, to personalize relationships and thereby increase productivity.   Turns out the latest privacy protections are showing up just in time.

A Harris Interactive poll sponsored by Career Builder shows that 45% of employers are using social networking sites in making hiring decisions; 11% more plan to do so shortly.  That number skyrockets to 63% of those companies in the Information Technology space.  There are regulations regarding what information may be collected and used for Human Resources decisions in the US.  Unless someone is posting their Social Security Number or bank account information online, most of those regulations have nothing to do with network centric scrutiny.  Separating the white collar from the weekend is where the privacy features will become paramount.

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