Prioritizing privacy on social media  

By Kyle Ferraro

Employers pay attention to the information their potential employees post, making a professional online presence important. 

Carla Mattiussi, career development coordinator at Youngstown State University’s Office of Career Exploration and Development, said students should scrub their social media accounts of inappropriate content. 

“Everybody knows the importance of it, but maybe not to the level that it’s becoming important,” Mattiussi said. “It’s a well-known fact that employers generally check student social media accounts prior to inviting them in for interviews.”

Mattiussi explained that there has to be a conscious effort to promote what type of information is made public. Students should ask themselves what personal information they want employers to know. To overcome potential negative content that was posted in the past, making a change in what you post now is an option.

“Start literally pumping out information that is new,” Mattiussi said. “Because generally when a person is going to do a search of you, posts that are more recent are going to pop up more often than something you posted, say, 10 years ago.”

Adam Earnheardt, communications professor and special assistant to the provost, is known as an expert on all things social media. He said there are limits to how thoroughly someone can scrub their profile.

“Most people aren’t going to go back four or five years and look at your social media account. Most of the time, it means going back to platforms that you aren’t as active on and scrubbing them thoroughly,” Earnheardt said. 

The content that is acceptable to keep versus what is recommended to delete is subjective to the employer, Earnheardt said. 

“Questionable content to one person may be perfectly fine for someone else. A lot has to do with the company you’re interviewing for,” Earnheardt said. “Obviously, anything that shows or condones illegal behaviors are grounds for an employer to pass on interviewing you.”

Christina O’Connell, Williamson College of Business Administration Center for Career Management director, has a few recommendations for what students should do before entering the professional stages of their life. 

“I do recommend students to Google themselves to see what appears when someone searches their name,” O’Connell said. “I also recommend cleaning up accounts prior to looking for internships and jobs, as they may find information you should have deleted before you get a chance to do so.” 

Making separate private and public accounts is something students can do to freely post what they please.

“There’s a lot of people that do that. I think that if you’re trying to find a way to express yourself or find new identities, that is a safe way to do that,” Earnheardt said. 

Though students can control what they post, they can also control who has access to their private accounts. 

“Be very careful with who is on your accounts,” Mattiussi said. “There needs to be more of an effort to control who has access to your private accounts.”