by Johanna Seidel

250 million people are posting, liking, updating, tagging, and stalking on the world’s most popular social network, Facebook. Having a Facebook account in today’s society is almost inevitable. Facebook for some, is strengthening social ties among friends and families and creating a new method of communication. For others, is costing them their jobs, scholarships, and reputations.

Facebook was originally created in 2004 to connect the Harvard campus. In the past eight years, Facebook has connected the world. The network has established a direct connection of personal and professional lives. Thanks to Facebook the separation of people’s work and home lives has become more difficult to separate than church from state.

Having an online profile makes you vulnerable in the sense that everyone with online access is able to make judgments and form opinions based on what they see. A post that was shared in complete innocence may be taken as something provocative or offensive. Sharing strong opinions on controversial issues can make or break an outsider’s opinion of you.

Employers and colleges are using Facebook profiles to pre-scan candidates, and in many cases are making game changing decisions based on what they see. In a recent Microsoft organized survey, it was found that 70% of employers or hiring managers have rejected an applicant based upon something they perceived unacceptable on Facebook. What you post in the heat of the moment has the potential to alter your future in a detrimental way.

Last year a student athlete at Molloy College had her scholarship pulled due to something that she posted on Facebook. The student posted a picture with a caption quoting a popular rap song. The caption was “’andd imm put this drink uppp like its my last.” The coach for her softball team printed her Facebook page and brought it to the attention of school officials resulting in the loss of her scholarship. This type of thing is happening more frequently across the country. Some argue that this is an invasion of privacy, and that it is wrong to make judgments on someone’s character based on an online profile. Others think that the softball coach was doing her job in maintaining the strict regulations for college athletes on scholarship.

Many argue that it is wrong for businesses and schools to monitor their students or employee’s Facebook pages. Your personal profile is a way of expressing your views, opinions and lifestyle. Just because a person posts pictures of themselves having a beer at a bar with friends does not mean that they will stagger in late every morning hung-over. If somebody posts a complaint about the floundering economy, or the corruption of big business, does not mean they are going to pitch a tent and occupy Wall Street.

With today’s economy the availability of jobs and scholarships are dwindling. As students who will be entering this incredibly competitive job market within the next few years, it is more important than ever to be prudent about our posting habits.  Candidates are being scrutinized before they are hired. If a candidate wants to be taken seriously, the process goes far beyond the outfit purchased for the interview and the careful revisions of the resume. With 70% of employers screening Facebook, more and more students and job seekers are reconsidering the implications of what they are typing before they click that “post” button.  If what is seen on a resume and stated on an interview contradicts with what can be seen on your Facebook page, don’t hold your breath for that job offer or acceptance letter.