When I speak at law schools, I’m always impressed with the number of students who have removed themselves from Facebook search so that potential employers can’t find the students simply by entering the students’ names in the Facebook search bar. However, with the privacy changes Facebook introduced earlier this month, Facebook is removing the ability of members to hide themselves from Facebook search.
You may still have the option to hide yourself from Facebook search because the change is being rolled out to members gradually. However, you should start planning for the change now, and I recommend considering the following:
- Does it belong on Facebook? Before posting an update or photo, ask yourself whether the information should be shared on Facebook. As we’ve been reminded by the recent Randi Zuckerberg photo privacy breach, your information can still be shared by your friends who have access to the information—no matter how private you try to make the information by applying the most stringent privacy settings. So, before posting anything, ask yourself, “Would I mind if the entire world saw this information?”
- Use your privacy settings. The bright side of the recent Facebook privacy changes is that the settings are more user friendly. Spend 10 minutes today reviewing your settings to make sure your information is protected.
- Apply the Office Desk Photo Rule. No matter which privacy settings you choose, your profile picture is public to everyone. Now, that you can’t hide from a Facebook search, more people will find you and see your profile picture. It’s even more critical that you choose an appropriate Facebook profile picture. In my book, I recommend applying the Office Desk Photo Rule when choosing your profile picture: choose a picture that you would display on your office desk. The picture can be casual, just not too casual. Avoid the pictures of you taking shots or posing in a bikini.