DNR to prospective recruits: Be wary of Facebook

"Facebook is not your friend."

That's the advice imparted by Jim Quinlivan, a trainer with Ohio DNR's wildlife division, to prospective officer cadets.

Young men and women looking to a career as wildlife officers are also advised to stay out of trouble and avoid associations and friends that can lead to trouble.

Quinlivan said more and more human resource departments in both private businesses and public agencies are checking Facebook pages before making hiring decisions.

Having a Facebook page will not automatically eliminate a cadet candidate, he said. But what's posted and said on that page gets careful scrutiny by DNR recruiters. The DNR wants its peace officers to project a professional image. Drinking and partying pictures and off-hand comments about agency policies don't fit that image.

Facebook is a hot topic in Madison County these days. Paul Gross, our county commissioner, sued London resident Susan Dunham last year for libel and defamation, based on her derogatory posts during the 2012 primary campaign. Dunham countersued after Gross called the posts "sensational lies" in the local newspaper.

In summary judgment, both sides scored points. Gross won on posts left undetermined by the facts. Who pays legal fees associated with 13 months of filings remains undecided.

Central Ohio media paid close attention to the lawsuits and their ramifications for elected officials and their critics everywhere.

Are Facebook messages private conversations and gossip among friends? Or, are they published in the way a newspaper is printed and distributed? How seriously do readers take what they see on Facebook? Does it threaten free speech?

Those questions won't soon be answered in this era of prolific social networks. But Quinlivan's statement is a cautionary tale.

Think before you post and know your Facebook "friends." Off-hand statements can be costly to both your career and pocketbook.

Categories: Ohio – Jane Beathard

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