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Real-life lesson: Don't post stupid photos online

Social network posts can cost you a job.

By Karen Datko Oct 26, 2009 1:14AM

Trying hard to get or keep a job in these tough economic times? Learn a real-life lesson from head Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau, who had to apologize to Sen. Hillary Clinton after an embarrassing photo of him was posted online.

It's unclear how the party photo showing Favreau, 27, groping a full-size cardboard likeness of the secretary of state nominee ended up briefly on Facebook. And he didn't lose his new White House job. But the incident emphasizes a point we've tried to make.

Don't post your most-embarrassing moments or, if you must, use the privacy settings at your social-networking site. Make sure your drunken or otherwise stupid moments -- and we all have them -- aren't being displayed online for the world to see.

They can come back to haunt you and possibly cost you a job opportunity. For instance, VentureBeat notes that a college student was denied a teaching degree because of a drinking photo on MySpace.

You may think Favreau deserves to be punished or that the prank was simply silly. (That debate is ongoing at The Opinionator at The New York Times and elsewhere.)

You also may disagree with how deeply employers are mining your background. (Team Obama's job application form (.pdf file) is thoroughly inquisitive about applicants' online identities.) Along those lines, Julian Sanchez wrote at Ars Technica, "... do any of us want to live in a world where an unguarded moment can this easily become your public identity?"

Good question. But they do. So it's best to keep in mind that the world can indeed become your stage, unless you and your friends set your sites to "private."

Published Dec. 8, 2008



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