Social networking has become an incredibly important component to survivorship and we've long advocated for awareness around the use of social media to share details about people's individual cancer journeys. Findings from a new study out of Carnegie Mellon University, highlighted in a recent Wall Street Journal article, seem to support this. This study found that between 10% and one third of US companies search social networking sites early on in the hiring process and furthermore, what's found could be used in a discriminatory way.
This study is the latest example of the wide reach and consequences that are part of sharing personal information online. While most employers that are hiring cite that they're only looking for evidence of a potential employee's unprofessional behavior, the possibility for discriminatory hiring decisions exists, whether completely unconscious or even intentional. While no prospective employer will delve into page fifteen of a Google search, we advise patients and survivors to have some sense about what comes up when they look themselves up online.
- Set privacy settings (and set them well!) on things like Facebook
- Have some sort of screen for what you'd be unhappy about someone else knowing about you and make informed decisions about what you're putting online around that - even for something like a profile picture
- Consider secure communities like MyLifeLine & Caring Bridge for sharing information about your diagnosis, treatment and recovery - they tend to offer much more clarity on their privacy settings
- Be Mindful! Once something is on the web, it doesn't go away, so try to be as present as possible when making decisions about what you share online