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Facebook: Both friend and foe

Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel hosted a “National Defriend Day” for Facebook users on Nov. 17—a day that gives you the freedom to delete the creepers on Facebook who friended you after one semester of class together and feel guilt-free doing it.

According to a recent Washington Post article, Kimmel “decided society needs to return to a time when people did not know what the random guy from their high school biology class had for breakfast this morning.”

We all know Facebook, and most of us use it regularly. You and your friends post pictures and write on each other’s walls. But there stands a fine line between fun and what’s appropriate As we go through college, graduate school and professions are in the near future. Our future employers only need to do a quick Google search to find your Facebook account if you do not have strict privacy settings. What kind of impression are your Facebook photos and wall giving?

Sue Zurn, assistant director of the Career Center, who also owns a Facebook account, said Facebook is only one of many social outlets, but you must be careful with what you decide to post, and whom you friend.

Zurn said it is especially important to be cautious of what pictures you are tagged in— headshots, profile pictures, etc—as this can create a bias against you.

According to an article in Washingtonian Magazine, kids at a Thomas Sprigg Wootton High School, a school in the Rockville, Md. and rated one of the top high schools in the nation by Newsweek in 2005, created a fake profile on Facebook for a cute boy named “Trevor” moving to the area. More than 500 students friended Trevor online, and ten girls agreed to meet him.” So many people accept friend requests when they have no idea who they are, without realizing how dangerous it can potentially be.

Facebook’s privacy page states: “Information you’ve shared with everyone – as well as your name, profile picture, gender, networks, and username – could be seen by anyone on the Internet. Please be aware that it will be visible to anyone viewing your profile, and applications and websites you and your friends use will be able to access it.”

Facebook does have many positive things to it—it may help you reconnect with friends, make plans to meet future employers and make you feel more connected with the social world. But who you friend, and how you decide to use it the social network, is what can potentially get you into trouble.

Sonya Goergen, marketing, public relations and recruitment coordinator of North Dakota State University’s Graduate School, said as NDSU’s graduate school does not look at prospective students’ profiles when making admissions decisions. She said businesses may do this, but as a graduate school, they do not.

Ashley Koester, senior and secondary education major, said as a future teacher, it will be important not to have certain things on Facebook.

“My uses of Facebook will be different in the future. What I have on it will be different because my purpose will be different,” Koester said.

She plans on teaching middle school, and high school students in the future, and wants them to be able to connect with her outside of the classroom, in a more comfortable setting.

Junior Brittany Mahler, a social work major, thinks it is perfectly fine to defriend someone if it is a legitimate reason, such as if you have only one class with them, and you never speak to them otherwise.

Mahler is in a relationship with a United States Marine, who is currently deployed in Afghanistan. They are keeping in touch through Facebook messages.

“The only reason I use Facebook is because I get in touch with other United States Marines’ girlfriends, wives, and fiancés,” Mahler said.

No matter how careful a person is with pictures, others can typically find a way to get to them through Facebook status updates, and uploaded pictures of one of your friends. For instance, Zurn gave the example a girl who would lie to her boss to get out of work. She one day told her boss that her grandmother had died, and had to miss work for the funeral. Later that month, pictures were posted of her that same weekend at Mardi Gras, and she was later fired.

Zurn described alternatives to connect on social networks in a more professional way. LinkedIn is a website useful for professional networks where members can upload their resume, search for jobs and ask for recommendations. This Web site also allows its members to create a positive image for themselves by using key words on their profile.
By having these positive descriptive words, Zurn said, you are opening yourself up to employers searching for employees just like you.

To create this professional account, Zurn said to go to the LinkedIn Web site and click on the career services tab to watch the demo video.

William Arruda, creator of, invented two terms used when you need to “Clean up digital dirt”: vacuume—removing things from your page (defriend someone); and sweeping it under the rug—post or contribute to blogs that will only be positive.

“For every negative that is on your wall,” Zurn said, “you need 10 positives for a person to change their impression of you.”

So now what? Do spend the time to go through and delete that friend from 11th grade biology? Or do you just accept whom you have accepted? The choice is yours.

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