Respected journalist Jon Honeyball who writes for UK computing magazine PC Pro has turned away from Facebook after reading comments made by Mark Zuckerberg regarding personal privacy, At the other end of the scale a former colleague, a young lady in her mid 20s, freely posts updates on her party lifestyle and you fear for future employment prospects, especially in the wake of comments by Google chief Eric Schmidt in the Wall Street Journal.

Here Schmidt, whose company has made billions from collecting user data and selling it on, issued a stark warning over the amount of personal data people leave on the internet and suggested that many of them will be forced one day to change their names in order to escape their cyber past. Don’t you just love the irony.

Business Only

“I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “I mean we really have to think about these things as a society.”

Which is why I use social media virtually 100% for business purposes. OK, I might drop the old tweet about Ian Hunter – ex Mott The Hoople – being the most under-rated singer-songwriter in the world or the fact that it’s been a crap week and I was looking forward to downing a cryogenically chilled beer, but most of my “social media” activity is there purely to promote my blog.

All of the people I follow on Twitter by and large use it for business purposes but then I guess that is staking what my old Cockney granddad would call “stating the bleedin’ obvious” as I would not follow the tweets of a 16 year old from Detroit and expose myself to his or her adolescent ramblings.

Cautionary Tale

So apart from a few comments left on Facebook from friends and colleagues there is very little that is personal littering the web, nothing that can come back and bite me on the arse apart from the fact most people seeing my web presence would think I am little more than a boring old fart!

In one of last week’s editions, the UK’s Independent newspaper carried this cautionary tale about how one little photograph can literally rui your life:

“The tale of Stacy Snyder, the “drunken pirate”, is a cautionary one for any young person hoping to embark on a promising career.

“Ms Snyder, a trainee teacher, had passed all her exams and completed her training. Her academic record was unblemished. That is, until her final summer, when her teachers – out of the blue – deemed that the behaviour she had displayed in her personal life was unbecoming of a teacher.

Drunken Pirate

“Her crime? She had uploaded an image of herself, wearing a pirate costume and drinking from a plastic cup on to a social networking site with the caption: “drunken pirate.”

“A colleague at the school where she had been training had seen it and reported it, saying that it was unprofessional to potentially expose pupils to photographs of a teacher drinking alcohol.

“As university officials told her that her dream career was now out of her reach, she offered to take the photo down, and argued that it was not even possible to see what was in the cup. “After all, she told them, “is there anything wrong with someone of a legally permissible age drinking alcohol?”

“But her pleas were ignored. Ms Snyder never got the certificate she needed to teach and an attempt to sue the university for it was unsuccessful.

“Placing a photograph of herself in “an unprofessional state” was her downfall: the image had been catalogued by search engines and by the time she realised the danger, it was impossible to take down.”

How do you use social media and have you any fears about it?