Can an employer look at your Facebook profile?

Written by michael roennevig Google
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Can an employer look at your Facebook profile?
Think twice before accessing your Facebook profile at work. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

There's nothing to stop your current employer or a company you've applied for a job with snooping on your Facebook profile. There's not a lot you can do about people researching you online. You can go some way to limiting the potential damage any dodgy material could do to your professional reputation by keeping a close rein on the information and images you post on the social networking site, but some things will be outside of your control.

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Privacy

Altering your Facebook privacy settings and restricting who can see your profile and content will help keep your information from prying eyes. Click the "Settings" icon in the top right corner of your Facebook profile and select "Privacy settings." Limit access to your contacts and make your profile inaccessible via search engines. The latter will be especially important if you have a particularly unusual name. Employers probably won't waste too much time trawling through multiple profiles if your name is John or Jane Smith, but your Facebook content can also be found by limiting searches by information provided on your CV, such as where you went to university and where you live.

Other people's profiles

You can exercise a certain amount of control over who can view what you post to your own Facebook profile, but could come unstuck if your friends upload dodgy material. Savvy employers may take a look at the Facebook profiles of your college alumni or former work colleagues having worked out who you could be friends with on the site from your CV. If your contacts aren't quite as privacy-conscious as you, employers could stumble across incriminating content. Ned Rocknroll, the amusingly-monikered husband of actress Kate Winslet, was awarded an injunction in January 2013 after "The Sun" newspaper found compromising pictures of him on a friend's Facebook profile.

Content

If you don't want people to find information or images that could portray you in an unflattering light, there's a simple solution; don't post potentially embarrassing content on Facebook. Employers may be able to gain access to your profile by asking somebody you're friends with to show them your content. Unscrupulous employers could even resort to hacking your profile to find out more about you. If there's nothing incriminating to see, your reputation will remain intact. If you want to be 100 percent certain that nobody will be able to access your secrets, send any pictures of yourself indulging in activities you perhaps shouldn't be by email as opposed to posting them on Facebook. .

Monitoring

If your current employer's internet usage policy allows it to snoop on your online activity, your boss could be keeping tabs on your Facebook usage. A June 2012 study from technology research firm Gartner predicted that 60 percent of employers will monitor the social media pages of their employees by 2015. If you're worried about your employer snooping on your Facebook activity, don't access the site on a work computer. Log on to Facebook via a 3G connection on your smartphone if you must access the site during working hours.

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