Could Facebook 'edit' feature cost you dear?

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Facebook

Most professional people are learning to be cautious about what they publish on Facebook. They have limited those who can see what they say, they're careful not to be too open, and they take care never to update a status if they're alcohol-impaired. After-all, careless talk on social networks has cost jobs, friends and relationships.

So it's a little alarming that Facebook has a new function which could undo all our efforts.

Edit

The function in question is the ability to edit your posts. This may seem like a great way to avoid being humiliated by typos and spelling mistakes. However, it can also be highly misleading.

In the past, if you wanted to alter a status update, you would have to delete it and re-do it - which would mean losing any comments or 'likes'. Now the comments will remain despite the fact that the update has changed. This gives people the ability to make you look like a fool.

This means that you might 'like' an update from a colleague that says, "It's so hard to get up on a Monday morning", which is then changed to "It's so hard to get up on a Monday morning, especially when you work for Bob, who is an incompetent fool." Now Bob, and everyone else you work for, can see you wholeheartedly agree with the assertion that he's terrible at his job.

Your only protection is that if you edit a post, the fact that it has been edited can be seen, and users can have a look to see what the comment originally said. However, anyone who commented on the old version will not be notified of any changes, so you will have to either take real care about whose posts you comment on, or watch them all like a hawk to ensure none of them are changed retrospectively.

Risks

This isn't the first time we have reported on your risks from social networking sites. Last week we heard about the student whose image was being used for 'ewhoring' after her page was hacked.

A year ago we warned about scammers sending emails that pretended to be informing you about a photo you had been tagged in - which would link to a page that would download a virus.

Then there was the dislike button scam, which told users that they could install a dislike button - but instead installed a virus.

Career

We have also reported on features (like the edit function) that could be risky for your reputation and your career.

We reported last month how social media can cost you your job in a host of ways - from your boss seeing updates about him or her, to colleagues passing on things you have written about the company. Two in five organisations will even check your profile when you apply for a role - so it can cost you the job before you get it.

The question is whether, given all these risks, it's too much of a danger to publish details of your life online. What do you think?