The Israeli Army had a bit of a problem recently; they had to call off a raid because a soldier posted the time and location on Facebook. While most people don’t typically have quite so much hanging in the balance from a Facebook post, they still do post a surprising amount of detail to the Internet without regard for who might read. And sometimes, it costs them jobs.
It’s no secret: Facebook is no longer merely a way to keep in touch with friends. These days, it can make or break your ability to get a job and keep it. We’ve shown you how to make it work for you, but it begs the question: if Facebook, MySpace, and other social-networking sites are being molded into our professional image, where can we be ourselves on the internet?
Cue the title of this post. Superman knew that sometimes he had to be Superman, and sometimes he had to be Clark Kent, and that the two should never be intermingled. He kept very strict controls on both parts of his life to keep them from mixing. The military has a term for this: OPSEC. Basically, it means keeping your mouth shut unless somebody is on a need-to-know basis. Certainly, you would never post operation details on Facebook.
For your image and personal brand, you should take similar steps. The Facebook page that pops up immediately when you search your name? Treat that as public stomping ground. However, you might consider creating yourself an alter ego: a profile not connected to your name, and targeted at a select group of trustworthy friends and family. This is a fairly common practice with teachers who find that being “friends” with their students on social networking sites leads to trouble. My brother-in-law, a teacher, doesn’t live in Uzbekistan and doesn’t work for ABC. But his Facebook profile indicates otherwise.
While this will grant you a certain amount of anonymity, you are still responsible for what you say and post, so exercise discretion.
There is, of course, another solution that I personally use to manage multiple identities: don’t post what you don’t want made public. It’s just easier for me to share my less work-appropriate moments in person with friends or through private e-mail, though as Sarah Palin found out, e-mail isn’t always just for your eyes.