By Gabriella Levine
In 2010, Time named Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and co-founder of Facebook, person of the year, putting him in the company of Pope John Paul II and Martin Luther King Jr.
The list also contains some shockers: 1938, Adolf Hitler; 1939, Joseph Stalin; (for Democrats) 2004, George W. Bush. It was not the worthiness, but rather the impact of their contributions that earned them the title.
At a time when the political rhetoric of our country is in total disarray, Time chose a safe option in Zuckerberg, who has yet to be adequately judged, as his influence hasn’t peaked.
However, his creation of the world’s greatest social network is beginning to overstep its boundaries, transcending beyond its initial purpose into something that we, as its users, are at the mercy of.
Originally, Facebook was merely a social network, connecting friends, family, acquaintances, and even those without any actual relation. When Facebook began, it formed itself around a simple concept—socializing and gossip.
Its continuous evolution suggests that what began as a method of social communication has become a connection with virtually everything; this includes career outlooks, government surveillance techniques, political spectrums, legal evidence and judicial action.
Once your name is out there, you’re shared with the world’s largest resource, and your information is not exclusive to the people on your friend list. A simple privacy setting cannot protect you from the onslaught of public speculation.
Thus, the website that most of us frequently use as a guilty pleasure or addiction has become one of our largest threats.
As college students, we must be constantly vigilant about the information we share on Facebook and its connection to our potential job outlooks. Director of the Becker Career Center Bob Soules personally discovered the swift evolution of Facebook and its ability to establish potentially hazardous connections between students and their futures.
“Four years ago, roughly 15-20% of employers looked at what you put on your profile.” Soules goes on to say, “Now, 75% of organizations have policies that require the online research of candidates.” In effect, Facebook has become an online resume.
However, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employees, only 7% of U.S. consumers believe that online data can affect their job search. If we are hired, the risks continue. Coworkers and bosses can judge your job performance by your activity on Facebook. Director of the Counseling Center Marcus Hotaling and an avid researcher of the website describes Facebook as a ‘virtual time clock.’ Hotaling explains, “So if someone wants to know what another is doing, all they need to do is check their profile.” Sarah Palin posted an image on her Facebook of crosshairs resembling gun sights over targeted political districts, including Tuscon; consequently, Palin’s name has been connected to the dreadful shootings two weeks ago.
There is no valid reason to believe that her political agenda or personal beliefs regarding gun control directly or indirectly influenced the tragic events in any way.
However, it is not surprising that Palin’s political career took a severe blow as a result of a posted picture chosen in poor taste (a mistake made by many).
Palin probably did not consider the possible ramifications of this post (although she should have), nor do most of us (although we also should) when we post information on Facebook for the world to see.
Facebook is intriguing, astonishing, but also treacherous in its evolving nature. For many people, a profile page is nothing but a fictitious documentary of one’s life, but a distorted representation on the Internet can often be mistaken for an authentic identity.
Zuckerberg’s creation was meant to socially connect the world, but if Facebook continues to gain momentum, then we must be conscious of the fact that it is not just a method of communication composed of trivial wall-posts, friend requests, and relationship statuses anymore, but something much more profound.