Tidying up on Facebook

Hi guys,

One of the tips from the OPM conference was making sure your “Web presence” (i.e., your Facebook page, blog, etc.) doesn’t have any content you wouldn’t want med schools to see. As the speaker said, med schools can - and sometimes do - break into your FB account to view your photos, posts, etc., even if you have the highest possible privacy settings turned on.

So. I decided to check up on my own FB page today. Nothing too terrible (no naked photos or anything like that), but there were definitely some items (photos I’d posted, other people’s photos I’d been tagged in, posts I’d made, and comments I’d left for others) that I’d prefer adcoms not see. So I spent a good couple of hours deleting things. I feel much better now, and I’ll be more careful in the future.

I’m not trying to freak anyone out, just sayin’ … you might want to look into your own FB page, your blog, whatever. Make sure it’s appropriate before you apply to med school.

As the speaker said (and this was a true story), you don’t want a photo of you at a keg party your freshman year of college to screw up your chances.

As an interesting aside to this, the American Medical Association’s monthly online ethics journal - Virtual Mentor - sponsors an annual essay contest (the Conley Ethics Essay Contest) for medical students. This years topic is on whether information about a medical school applicant’s character that is gleaned from a social networking source should be considered in assessing her acceptability for admittance into the profession.

It looks like medical school adcoms now have a new character dimension to evaluate in the admissions process - your internet presence, specifically your presence and the image you present on various social networking sites. As if there wasn’t enough to stress out about in this process already!

I had a “Facebook clean-up attack” a few weeks ago. I tend to over-think things a bit and I ended up deleting all the musicians and bands I had fanned/liked. Does liking Phish mean I’m a pothead hippy? I’m not, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. :slight_smile:

Interesting thoughts to be sure. Keep in mind as well that posts on sites like this and student doctor may also be being visited by adcoms. There was an interesting article on this subject in a recent journal.

It is also good to remember that your school email accounts are owned by the institutions and can be accessed by them for various reasons. I encourage people to use their personal email accounts at other providers for nonprofessional emails. You never know what someone else is going to determine to be improper at some later date. Who would have ever thought that being at a college party could keep you from getting a job? But these things are happening so better to be safe I believe.

As an aside, on one of my residency interviews this year the program director “googled” each of the interviewees, to the point of looking up their houses on Google maps.

Our department selected a new chairman this spring. When he came back to visit to begin having one-one sit downs to learn more about specifics about the department, I was recommended/chosen to sit down with him about clinic, though the discussion became about the residency program in general (I was the only resident he met with). Anyway, he brought up something that he saw written on the internet about the program. I went home, searched for it, and saw that he was referring to something he has read on scutwork.com.

I’ve also Googled myself, and luckily, the stuff that came up was good … awards I’ve won (dating back to high school, how random is that!), articles that I’ve written (I was a journalist in my “former” life), etc. So I’m not too worried there. In fact, it could actually benefit me, from what I’ve seen!

If u google me, you’ll come up with the actor, not me!! they’ll have to dig to find anything that’s actually me… and since I live a boring life, (scandal wise) it definitely won’t be worth the effort…

“break in” I dont think med schools will take the liability to actually “break in” to your account, as there are too many legal ramifications, and too many risks with false identities. People are stupid enough with their public data that they shoot themselves in the foot. Like if I wrote something here and said something ridiculous and homicidal or suggested something illegal to pay for medschool.

I only say those things in real life.

Goody! A perfect premed paranoia inducing subject! I’ve got something to fan the flames - I recently heard an interview with a private investigator who said that there are other search engines that one can use, ones that require a subscription fee, that turn up much, much more stuff on people than Google. He said high price psychics also use it before meeting with clients to be able to uncannily know things about them. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if well endowed institutions have access to such things (if indeed they do exist)…

On a different note, as we all know, we’re in the midst of a privacy zeitgeist and ten years down the road people will be more careful about what they put online but also more forgiving. I mean, give me a break, who doesn’t go to keggers their freshman year? I don’t even think I’d want to go to a doctor who has got such a stick up their a** they’ve never left the library out of fear of someone posting images on Facebook. BUT, it does kind of suck for us now, who are trying to get into med school in the midst of our culture grappling with this new social infrastructure.

(And, I’m admittedly not really one to hit the pulpit myself, since I’ve never joined Facebook precisely for this reason.)

Be discreet, but confident! Carpe diem!

There is a difference in be careful and judicious on your facebook and being being neurotic and paranoia. You probably want to clean up those pictures of you being shit-faced at a freshman party, or half naked with a group of 20 people or a wall full of your personal conquests amongst the girls or guys of innocent freshman class.

Generally the rest is acceptable if it is in a relatively professional manner. If you want to, you can create separate professional and private facebook accounts. I would strongly suggest that everyone has separate professional and personal email accounts. Your professional account should reflect your real name.

So be a cool, calm, rational mature adult about this and not act like a neurotic OCD 21 year old premed.

http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/public ations/ne…