Online Privacy

I find it fascinating how people treat the social networking aspects of the internet. On the one extreme, you have 4chan and Anonymous, and on the other, you have paranoid people who hide from the internet and worry that their name will turn up in a Google search. Since everything is posted on the internet anyway, I don’t really understand this latter stance, but then, 4chan is just tasteless.

Then there’s the range of facebook, from people posting intoxicated and changing their profile pictures to involve alcohol, to people who lock their accounts so that only their best friends since kindergarten can read what they post. The main point of all the to-do about social networking is that employers or administrators might find out your dirty secrets and choose someone more restrained.

As a web designer, I feel that I have no option on the high-privacy side, because my presence on the internet will advertise for me. For the same reason, I have to keep my internet identity tasteful and mature. Since I spend so much of my time online, it can feel very limiting to give thought to what hypothetical employers will think about every facebook post or blog entry.

I’m pretty plain vanilla (with heavy splashes of dorky and unique), so I generally don’t have to worry about pictures of my “wild sex parties” as Sara put it, ending up online. I don’t have to worry about losing my job over drinking pictures. The most I should probably concern myself about is saying something that’s just stupid, or writing about my New Age interests or something.

I find a few comments in the first article interesting: “What do employers find so offensive? Evidence of Dionysian behavior: Drinking, drugs and ‘provocative or inappropriate photographs or information.’… Many of those employers surveyed by CareerBuilder are more concerned about the appearance of candidates’ private lives and personal beliefs online than they are about job seekers’ professional skills.” It seems like these employers have misguided priorities.

Yet I feel a constant need to be conservative in what I post, due to a couple of online stalker/privacy incidents, and ten years of netiquette/auto-censorship reminders. I probably don’t manage my internet presence well enough, but I’ll just have to hope that employers take the attitude of the Amegy Bank of Texas.

And if an innovative company can’t handle my interests, then they’re probably not as creative as they think they are.

2 Responses to “Online Privacy”

  1. Nate
    | Reply

    I wouldn’t call the collective Anonymous the extreme end of online privacy… they seem to revel in anonymity more than actively protect it. Though on the other hand I suppose one could call them privacy advocates, as there have been many instances where Anonymous has used its collective wits and social engineering skills to get into peoples accounts (Sarah Palin’s Yahoo among others).

    I don’t have the kind of neccesity of an online presence that you do, but I get one anyway. Thanks to my class, I am now the maintainer of a brand new open source project, and quite googlable, with certain terms.

    I think the important thing to keep in mind about the Internet is to keep professional aspects apart from personal aspects. Have a professional presence, but try not to associate it with your personal one. This is where it helps to have a handle that’s not your name. Obviously it’ll never be perfect, but it seems to be a skill to hone as you make yor way through the blagoblags.

    Obviously you can’t stop employers from using the Internet to research you, but it seems like many people are taking the stance that you are; if you’re not hired because of an online presence then you probably don’t want to work there anyway.

    • ellen
      | Reply

      Well, online privacy isn’t really my area of expertise, but I thought Anonymous, who is very present on the internet, but likes to remain anonymous, is an interesting comparison with the people who try to hide from the internet. Maybe they’re not opposite ends though.

      As far as keeping my personal and professional lives separate with a pseudonym, that would have been a good idea if I’d done it consistently back in high school when I started using the internet, but at this point it feels too late for a number of reasons.

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