. Here you are - your life outlined in a one page profile, with your interests, likes and dislikes, pictures, friends all organized neatly in hierarchal categories in that all-too-familiar white and blue template layout. You are in control of your own page, a master of your own Facebook destiny. You can choose how much or how little you want to reveal about yourself, choose different privacy levels so that only your friends can view your more private moments captured on camera - your privacy is at your own fingertips, molded and shaped at your own will. At least, that's what you would like to think anyway. Here are some ways in which Facebook can meddle with our lives and jeopardize and soil our reputations, whether we take precautions or not:
1. With Facebook, like with any other social networking tools, whatever you choose to post online can never be entirely private. The first negative effect that Facebook can have on your life is, to some capacity, a result of your own doing. Whether of a direct or an indirect action, undesirable information about us can spill beyond the boundaries of chosen privacy settings and end up in the hands of a third party.
Let's explore this phenomenon a little further. Say you were twenty one and in college, going out on a town with a bunch of your close friends, cameras and shots of tequila in hand. The pictures taken during this fateful night do not have to be R-rated to jeopardize your future employment opportunities, should a prospective job recruiter come upon them while doing a Facebook search. With employers utilizing this social networking tool as a background checker in increasing numbers, the pictures from years ago that may not even define the person that you are today can make you out to be an alcoholic and an out-of-control partier.
Or say you posted some slightly risque pictures of yourself under strict privacy settings, so that only the closest of your friends can have the privilege of viewing them at their leisure. Fair enough - you took precautions. However, what if one of your friends has ulterior motives, what if he or she decides to reveal the pictures to the rest of the population, despite your protests. That is not to say, of course, that you should suspect every one of your friends to be a devious backstabber, but simply to sprinkle some caution in the wind and remind that even the most private of information can, inadvertently, become public and harmful as a result of mere carelessness on your part.
2. Even when you do not bring a camera because you are sure that the events of a drunken night should not be documented in any way, shape or form, there is never any guarantee that no one else will start snapping pictures in the middle of that drunken keg stand or a make-out session with a pizza delivery boy. Even if the next day the embarrassing pictures are revealed on Facebook and you frantically detag yourself, do not assume that the pictures, even if untagged, can no longer be traced back to you. Your friends still have the images posted online, making them freely available for anyone to view, judge and discuss.
Even if you politely ask your friends to take the questionable pictures down, it does not guarantee that the pictures will not be posted again at a later date. It does not even have to be a malicious action - sometimes people simply forget about their friends requests and, upon finding amusing and crazy pictures from years ago, decide to post them online again.
3. Pictures are not the only tools of potential demise to avid Facebook users. Sometimes, even your own words can become your sworn enemy, as your activities, political, religious views, and fan pages can be seen by anyone in your chosen networks. Whether it is your strict Catholic mother who notices that you "do not believe in God", according to your profile, or whether it is your love interest who takes offense in reading that you are "not...