Managing your online identity to keep yourself out of trouble can be a challenge, but one Purdue professor said constructing a positive image is just as important.

Mihaela Vorvoreanu, an assistant professor in the computer graphics technology department, has been researching how information on social media profiles impacts personal identities. She said people need to understand what they do offline in person doesn’t apply to what they post online.

“Social media literacy 101: offline, we do have this ability to adapt to situations; that’s very healthy. That’s normal.” Vorvoreanu said. “But you get online, you lose that completely. You lose the ability to control that message.”

She said people frequently find it cumbersome to adjust privacy settings on sites such as Facebook, or they simply might just forget. The settings, by default, are set to be as open as possible, because Facebook profits if more personal information is added, according to her.

“You are paying with your information,” she said. “In my personal opinion, the benefits are worth it, but that’s a personal decision.”

Posting pictures of a party or a concert is fine, but Vorvoreanu said it’s a good idea to balance out that information with progress in academic projects or intellectual interests that show character development. This will broaden the perspective on what potential employers might think of a person’s demeanor as a whole.

“People don’t know how to represent themselves,” she said. “Do you ever post something about what you’re working on? I tell students, how much time do you spend on your Google resumé?”

Geovon Boisvenue, a graduate student in the College of Technology who works with Vorvoreanu, said his primary focus is the student body. He said appearing professional is important, but that doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing personality.

“You might want to seem a little edgy,” he said. “That’s just fine. Just be proactive and think about it.”

Vorvoreanu said she wants people to engage in social media while understanding and acknowledging the risks that accompany it.

“You could not post anything online,” she said. “But that would make things really boring. That would make people like politicians.”

On the other side, she encourages potential employers to keep an open mind.

“People who are employers, my advice is to be less judgmental,” she said. “Things are taken out of context when a person said something, but it doesn’t make them a bad person.”

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