A social media expert has warned the boundaries between public and private have become blurred, after a Gore District Council employee resigned in the wake of comments she made online.

Dr Mark McGuire, an Otago University senior lecturer in Design Studies specialising in social networking, said yesterday the business model of social networking sites, such as Facebook, actually encouraged making public everything people said or did online.

“You have to spend a lot of time and effort to make it private. You assume that because you’re talking to someone you know, a personal friend, others aren’t listening but, of course, they are,” he said.

Gore District Council community development officer Jacqui Green resigned last week, after making comments on her personal Facebook page about her unsuccessful bid in this year’s Gold Guitar Young Ambassador Awards that reportedly alleged racism and competition-rigging.

Dr McGuire also warned everything posted online was lasting, and could not be deleted with a mere click of the mouse.

University of Otago School of Business head of department of management Professor Alan Geare said while he was not familiar with Mrs Green’s case and therefore could not comment on it specifically, he warned people their online behaviour could affect their employment or potential employment.

“Just as a general thing, employees and potential employees are well advised that it’s not just their friends that read Facebook, and people applying for jobs have found that employers have looked them up [online],” Prof Geare said.

– Alana Dixon
www.stuff.co.nz