Facebook ‘Groups’ give users more control

By Tiffanie Reynolds | gargoyle@flagler.edu

If an employer looked up Asierleigh Hatfield on Facebook, they would find a clean, smiling picture, a list of interests and a list of previous status updates. From her profile, it may seem that she does not share a lot of information on Facebook but thanks to the new Groups application, she has used the social network to her advantage.

Hatfield, a sophomore at Valencia Community College in Kissimmee, Fl., uses the site as a way to communicate with friends and family. Instead of posting everything on her profile, most of her “friends” are separated into groups, making her relationships more private and personable. She has a group for family, online friends and organizations.

“I have friends that I made through Postgroup, so if I have a new postcard then I can tell them in the group instead of just posting it on my profile, where no one cares,” Hatfield says.

The new Groups application introduced early to mid-October kept the same layout as the previous Groups application but with there is one huge difference. Users now have the option to make his or her group as public or private as possible. Privacy settings range from public to secret where the group will not show up on his or her profile, making it non-existent to everyone else.

Through using the new feature, Hatfield also finds an easier balance of controlling what is viewed on her profile as well as keeping up with her personal relationships. This also makes her profile more appealing, especially when she begins applying for jobs after graduation.

“I’m applying to a college in Europe and I want them to see the real image of me and one that is professional and applicable,” Hatfield says. “Like I want them to see ‘just got back from Give Kids the World’ than ‘had a great time at so-and-so’s party.'”

Even with features like Groups giving users more control over what they display on Facebook, the boundary between one’s private and public life is still loosely defined.

Numerous cases have been reported of people losing their jobs over what they posted on Facebook. In August, June Talvitie-Siple, a Massachusetts high school teacher, was fired over the negative comments of students and parents on her Facebook page.

Sarah Kirgis, a junior Political Science major at Flagler College, makes sure that everything she posts online doesn’t endanger her privacy. For her, Facebook is a “purely social” aspect of her life, and one that portrays a friendly but guarded image of herself.

“I try not to post the little trivial things. If I wanted someone to eat with me for lunch I would call them or invite them personally,” Kirgis says.

Like Hatfield, she also uses Facebook to stay connected to family and friends but prefers face-to-face contact, keeping the networking site as a fun tool to update others on the more important events in her life. Because she is always aware of what she posts, she is confident that her profile is an accurate and professional image of herself- one that will not change after she graduates.

Students like Hatfield and Kirgis know that the best privacy setting is personal control. Their image, both face-to-face and online, will play a huge part in their career and are taking the steps now to preserve it.

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