Facebook – on of the fastest growing social networking sites can be awesome or can be a curse. Started by a young man who wanted to keep up with his friends, Facebook has become an outstanding tool. Likewise, like any tool, how you use it determines whether it will serve you or hurt you.
As a business ethics speaker I talk to college groups all around the country about effective uses of Facebook and other social networking sites. The creative application of Facebook could make the difference in whether you get that first job (the one you really want) or don’t. The question is – “Is Facebook a tool for business or a public garbage dump for how you feel at the moment?”
Here’s a garbage dump example:
A Calvin College student has been suspended for one year over a lewd Facebook message he allegedly posted about an ex-girlfriend.
According to an article in The Grand Rapids Press, a message about an ex was posted from Tony Harris’s account in November that “referred to the woman in two slang terms and referenced sexuality.” Calvin officials did not return calls from The Chronicle, but the newspaper reported that the college cited Mr. Harris, a sophomore, for violating technology and conduct codes at the institution, which refers to itself as “distinctively Christian.”
The acceptable-use policy on the college’s Web site prohibits “communication that degrades or harasses individuals or groups.”
Mr. Harris, who not respond to requests for comment from The Chronicle, has insisted that the ex-girlfriend, who he said knew his Facebook password, logged in to his account and sent the message herself, presumably to frame him, the newspaper reports. Calvin officials were apparently unconvinced.
In order to resume his studies at Calvin in a year, Mr. Harris will need to re-apply to the college and recant the Facebook message, according to report. —Steve Kolowich
Now, ethically speaking, Mr. Harris used Facebook as a public garbage dump for how he felt about his ex-girlfriend. Not only was that less than honorable, but it had repercussions far greater than Mr. Harris would have expected when he posted his thoughts or feelings.
Every choice has a consequence.
The Consequence: Kicked out of school! Not allowed to return without reapplying and who knows what other repercussions he is experiencing from his ex-girlfriend and parents. In fact, one might wonder how many girl would now want to be his girlfriend since he has demonstrated that he might not honor them when they part?
There’s a saying – “garbage in — garbage out.”
While Facebook may have been started as a social networking site, it is rapidly becoming a “product/person differentiation site”. In other words, with Facebook being public and searchable, people of all ages who use it should consider that it is nothing more than a personal web site. What you put on there is your advertisement of yourself. If you want to sell yourself, you need to consider what you say and how you position yourself.
Facebook is a powerful tool – use it to your advantage!