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social-media     The social media revolution has swept over major platforms and keeps evolving; it’s a fascinating phenomenon. Social media sites are internet sites where people interact ‘freely’, share, and discuss information using a combination of multimedia formats such as video, audio, and images.  Social media has found a way to connect people around the world with popular sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. LinkedIn started as a business oriented social networking site for professionals, while Facebook changed the face of social media. Having launched in 2004, it has gone on to be the leader of the pack. Social media has even begun creating its own vocabulary. “Unfriend” became a part of the Oxford American Dictionary in 2009, thanks to the ‘Unfriend’ Facebook option. Oxford Dictionary proclaimed “Selfie” the word for 2013. Additionally, “tweep”, “hashtag” and “selfie” have now been Merriam-Webster approved thanks to Twitter and Instagram. Facebook and LinkedIn are some of the most powerful tools available to recruiters today. According to social media facts 2011, Facebook has more than 50 million subscribers and surpasses Google in site visits daily. LinkedIn subscribers supersede 100 million in comparison to 40 million in 2009. Social media is often used by recruiters to locate and engage the best candidates. Social media is however a dangerous tool for job hunters, as candidates are exposed to screening without knowing. Unknown prying eyes might be viewing your profile right now. Nigeria is estimated to be the second largest user of Facebook in Africa next to Egypt and with mobile subscribers increasing daily, social media users in Nigeria are increasing with an average subscriber having more than one social media account but all linked together. Slowly, the thin line demarcating personal and professional is disappearing. Social media might help you get a job, but it can also cause you to lose your job. Examples include a KFC worker being fired for posting photos of herself licking a bowl of potatoes on social media. Some Australian miners were fired for posting a ‘Harlem Shake’ video. A teacher Ashley Payne was fired over a Facebook picture of her with a glass of wine and a mug of beer. The current minister of state for defense in Nigeria received backlash for posting a tweet about chilling with cold beer. The tweet was promptly deleted some minutes later, and claims were made that hackers had gotten access to the minister’s Twitter account. The question however is, is it ethical to use employees’ social media posts and pictures against them? Is social media public domain for recruiters and employers? Isn’t screening an infringement on personal freedom and doesn’t having to entertain fear and restraint before typing or posting photos contradict the purpose of social media? Because there is undefined legislation regarding internet privacy worldwide and how it can be used, here is a warning to people out there; ‘big brother’ might be watching you.  

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This article was first published on 11th June 2014

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