|Facebook® vs. LinkedIn®|
|By Art Bowker, Cybercrime Specialist|
On December 7, 2010, I posted Keep it Secret…Keep it Safe: Good Advice for Corrections and Social Networking and thought I would share this recently unattended discovery about what corrections folks think is relevant to keep safe and what isn’t a problem to share.
I have a profile on a business and professional networking site, LinkedIn® (Please note this is not a plug for them and no I am not on their payroll). From time to time I try to see if there is anyone in corrections out there on the site, particularly located near me. Well I did a search for a specific term associated with corrections and rehabilitation and came up with about 164 entries in my area. Problem is the vast majority of these entries are useless. They contain names like Probation Officer, Parole Officer, or an institution’s name. No one is going to network with these profiles as you can’t tell who the hell they are. The same pattern is present throughout the nation on Linkedin®. You search for a parole officer you can get hundreds of profiles in other cities of no named profiles. Well, I wondered what if I did the same search for Facebook®. You guessed it ….almost double the entries, with names, pictures of kids, interests, locations, friends, etc.
Now to be fair Facebook® is the big dog in this comparison with about 500,000,000 users and growing to LinkedIn® with about 80,000,000. Stats But LinkedIn® has basic information for professionally sharing with other professionals. You control who sees your profile. Don’t get me wrong, you still could get in trouble on it. I am amazed at professionals who feel the need to tell folks in their network they are in route to a conference, put their DOB on it, or personal cell phone. Some folks are not shy about telling the world they are looking for a new job, something I am sure their current employer would find curious. Sure their job history and current job is listed. Additionally, folks you add to your network know your professional connections too. But there are no pictures or details about your kids or your family, unless you post them as your profile pic or put them in your resume information (BAD IDEA). It is just a different type of networking where it would appear corrections is overly cautious about telling others in the field who they are. Could someone search for you on LinkedIn®? Hell yes! So they find out where you work or worked. Unless you have a stalker that is following you from job to job, they know that already. I mean your offenders you supervise already know you are a probation or parole officer.
It could be corrections folks aren’ aware of LinkedIn® and its professional networking potential. It actually has a pretty good Group function that allows you to join specific discussion groups. For instance, I have one for Cybercrime Supervision, where folks can post questions, discussions, etc. It could also be that all those Probation/Parole Officers Profiles with no names are a lame attempt by some offenders to get folks to connect with them (I doubt it).
So corrections folks are perfectly willing to share on Facebook® very intimate details about themselves but on a site designed to help them in their jobs they become secret agents. What up with that? Hide from fellow professionals but tell the world (and your offenders) your kids are having a ball game on Friday night. Curious ain’t it!
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