Updated: 7/13/2011 7:16 PM ET|
How Facebook can hurt your finances
Social-networking sites might be fun and beneficial -- until your employer catches you bad-mouthing the boss or debt collectors use the sites to track you down.
Anyone who doubts the power of social media to affect finances need look no further than the example of former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner.
The New York congressman was ultimately forced out of politics in the face of public outrage over racy pictures he had sent to women using the microblogging service Twitter.
Career trouble is just one way a badly managed social-media presence can hit your pocketbook. Here are three areas where social media could damage your financial life -- and tips on avoiding such pitfalls:
1. It could cost you a job
Andy Beal, the CEO of social-media monitoring platform Trackur.com, says job seekers should assume potential employers will do an online search of candidates' names. Social-media profiles typically appear near the top of search results.
If you have questionable pictures or posts on a public profile, take them down or make the profile private.
Also, steer clear of negative talk about a prospective employer on any social-media platform, Beal says. Many companies monitor mentions of their brands throughout the Web, he says.
He cites the case of a Twitter user who posted about a job offer from Cisco but expressed doubt about "the daily commute" and "hating the work." A Cisco employee noticed the tweet and demanded to know the name of the user's hiring manager.
Even employees who think their jobs are safe can sabotage themselves by being too honest online about their personal lives or by posting feelings regarding a boss, a client, a co-worker or the company they work for.
"We've seen a lot of cases of people publishing status updates that have gotten them in trouble," says Justin Smith, the founder and editor of Inside Facebook. "People have said things that have caused problems with their boss because of what they said about their work or because they've shared some other kind of private information about work online."
Caroline McCarthy, a staff writer at CNET News, says the best defense against such mistakes is common sense. Remember, anything that appears on the Web is just a screenshot away from spreading quickly despite the best efforts of social-media users to keep it private.
2. Debt collectors can find you
Social-media outlets have become a key tool for collection agencies trying to track down debtors, says Michelle Dunn, the CEO of the American Credit and Collections Association and the author of "Do's and Don'ts of Online Collections Techniques."
"If they don't have a good phone number or the mail's being returned, a lot of them use Facebook to find out if (debtors) have a different address or their employment information," Dunn says.
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Kind of ironic that on page 2 of this article there is an "ad" for "become a fan of MSN Money on Facebook".....
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