The Facebook Factor

By Ashley Glass - email
Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

(WFLX) - Think your Facebook or MySpace page can't hurt you? Think again.

One man lost a major opportunity over what was on his Facebook page.

It was a prestigious internship that one in a thousand college students might land. For any business major, a summer at the American branch of the Anglo-Irish Bank would be a big deal. But Kevin Colvin kept calling in sick.

Here's one of his e-mails: "Paul/Jill, I just wanted to let you know that I will not be able to come to work tomorrow. Something came up at home, and I had to go to New York this morning for the next couple of days. I apologize for the delayed notice kind regards, Kevin."

But the very next day somebody in the office noticed a picture of Kevin with a beer in one hand and a fairy wand in the other was posted on his Facebook page with descriptions of what a wonderful time he had at the costume party.

His boss e-mailed back: "Kevin, thanks for letting us know. Hope everything is okay in New York."

Report asked to journalism class at VCU: "With a show of hands, how many of you are on a social networking site right now?"

We showed them the picture of Kevin, and all agreed that anything on the Internet was fair game, and that Kevin got what he deserved.

"So, I think, if you don't want people to see that picture, don't put it up," said one student.

The class also agreed that pictures we find on Facebook and Myspace are fair game for journalists and can be broadcast in news stories on TV.

But what they don't know is we've been investigating them. There was a collective groan from the class when they found out we'd been looking at their Web sites - reading their stories and viewing their pictures.

Report asked the class, "Raise your hand if you think this is you. Just some of the information we found out about you."

"I like to be stupid and just dance around randomly," said one student. "That's me!"

Another student had written, "I just wanna sit around and not do anything. I'm currently a journalism broadcast major."

And to make matters worse, we had pictures from their sites in some cases, embarrassing pictures.

Reporter asked, "Is that you? There was interesting information online on about half the class."

But poor Juliette seemed to take the brunt of our investigation, but she was very good natured about it. It was nothing terribly embarrassing, but even she admits, it's time to rethink what she has posted for the world to see. "I wouldn't want an employer reading that I like to be stupid. I just wanna sit around all day and not do anything, 'cuz that's not really good. But I mean, I put myself out there. So, you had the right to look at all my stuff."

In this tight job market, the experts agree, clean up your cyber footprint. "If there's anything on there that doesn't present you as a hard working, dependable, reliable employee, it needs to come down."