Image via CrunchBase
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently passed a ruling that your social media posts–text, photographs, comments, etc.–can be stored by businesses and reported to your prospective employers for up to seven full years after the fact. This means that the late-night Tweet, the weekend Facebook album and anything else you might have tossed out onto the Internet for all to see could potentially come back to haunt you in your future job hunting endeavors.
A firm called Social Intelligence is in the business of storing up all such incidents of ill-advised communications, even if they have since been deleted from the original source, and providing them to companies requesting this type of a pre-employment background check. Of course, those who believe that they are victims of mistaken identity or identity theft are able to file appeals, but most individuals affected by this company won’t even know until after they’ve been denied the job, if at all.
The only real way to stay safe from this type of disaster is to keep your communications clean and anti-defamatory. If you must bare your soul on Twitter, Facebook or your personal blog, take steps to keep your identity hidden. Don’t post under your real name, and save those genuine Facebook and Twitter accounts for a more professional online identity. If you’re going to be called upon to defend what you put out on social media websites, your only hope is to make all of your online contributions clean, upbeat and otherwise defensible.