Years ago in my first full-time job, our company got its own copying machines. One for each floor. It was like Gutenberg’s printing press on steroids. We were in awe. I’m pretty sure they were Xerox machines. At least, that’s what we called them. Anyhow, we were thrilled that such newfangled equipment was available to the likes of us.
The copying machines seemed to run night and day (it was a 24/7 operation). There was nearly always a line at the copying machine. And we copied everything. I mean everything. It was my generation’s selfie, but without the internet to spread whatever we were copying to the four corners of the Earth.
We copied everything, included driver’s licenses, work schedules, photos. Everything.
I mean, according to the rumor mill, everything. Especially the night shift gang. They had more time on their hands, less supervision — plus it was dark outside.
To test the rumors about what was being copied, I waited until one afternoon when there was only one person at the copying machine. He appeared to be copying a telephone bill. I didn’t know him well. I got in line and when he looked to see what was behind him, I said: “I heard the company gets a copy of everything that is copied on this machine.” Long pause, then…
He turned gray, then ivory white. He looked like he was going to faint. “Everything?” he asked. “How do they do it?”
I told him I didn’t know, but that the copying machine was probably capable of making a second copy of whatever was being copied. Maybe it was stored for the big boss to check as his leisure.
I never saw him at the copying machine again. He left a few months later.
Fast-forward to you, now!
The Obama administration has directed that publicly available postings on social media will soon become part of background checks Uncle Sam makes on federal workers seeking first-time or renewed security clearances. Makes sense moving with the times. Many major employers already do it as a matter of course. So what have you posted for your friends, the general public or Chinese hackers to see? And maybe use against you? Or as the basis of whether to hire, keep or fire you?
Social media is now fair game for anybody who cares to check out your profile. Or maybe a photo or comment — about you — that a “friend” has posted on his or her Facebook page. Or sent around the world by other means. People are finding jobs — and losing them — on the internet. No one is immune from problems with social media. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is under fire for her emails. Hulk Hogan, famous for being Hulk Hogan, is also in the news because of some tapes that went viral.
Nobody is safe. So think before you post. Your career could be at stake.