Facebook and Professional Privacy

Facebook’s past reputation for prioritizing a user’s privacy has not been great. Facebook, after all, is a business and your data powers its business. Remember the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2015? That was a wake-up call for Facebook users to delve deep into their privacy settings and control who knows what about their online persona (Barret, 2018). Facebook does have a robust set of privacy and security tools for users but the settings are not necessarily easy to find and a lot of users, including myself, do not regularly check how we have those settings configured.

To be fair to Facebook, Google and other online networks track your online moves regardless if you have an account. Let me share a personal example of my relationship with Zappos. It is a favorite online shop of mine (thanks Amazon!) and I frequently add items to my wish list for later consideration. Using Google Chrome, I randomly land on a website to look around and what do I find? In the sidebar Zappo’s reminding me that I looked at those Adidas three-striped leggings. This is just the online world we live in but some precautions can be taken to control your online profile.

It is routine these days for employers to perform a Google search on applicants. No longer are the days when emailing an application and resume was all that was considered for employment. So, if you prefer that your future employer does not see a post about that night out with your friends “celebrating”, or that your profile picture is something you would be embarrassed to show your parents, then take a look at your Facebook privacy and security settings sooner than later.

In the beginning, you signed up as an individual to share personal aspects with friends you know in real life and even those you met in Facebook groups (Cannon, 2017). Now you will want to control who can send you friend requests, how people can look you up, and who can see your posts. Let’s say you want to receive friend requests for business purposes, consider changing the settings to receive friend requests from everyone (Cannon, 2017). This can be risky, so be choosy which business friend requests you accept.

Your timeline and tagging settings are how you can protect your online image from having too much personal information that can be shared in business circles. The best way is to enable features that let you review timeline posts or tags BEFORE they show up on your timeline. You can specify whether the post is just for friends or can be posted publicly. Maybe it is a thought-provoking piece about social constructivism theory versus behaviorism then consider making the post public so others can see how awesome you are!

If you plan on using your Facebook profile within professional circles then editing your profile and profile picture should be a consideration. Your profile picture is always public so make sure that you choose a photo that you are comfortable with everyone to see. Landscape images, your pet dog or pet cat photo, or your headshot picture are pretty safe bets. A profile picture of you holding a martini not so much.

Don’t forget about your cover photo either. It is seen by people who visit your timeline so think about what you would like the cover photo to say about your professional persona. Add a few images to your biography section that show you with co-workers or attending a business seminar. If you believe you have crossed all the T’s and dotted the I’s look at how the public sees your timeline by clicking on the “seeing eye” icon to view what your Facebook profile will present to potential employers. If you like what you see, then you are ready to conquer the world.


Barret, B. (2018, March 21). The Complete Guide to Facebook Privacy. Retrieved from Wired: https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-privacy-apps-ads-friends-delete-account/

Cannon, T. (2017, June 4). What’s the Difference Between a Personal Profile and a Business Page? Retrieved from Social Media Examiner: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-use-a-facebook-personal-profile-for-business-a-guide-for-marketers/

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