Some of the details we learnt about the new head spook were innocuous enough (he wears Speedos), others less so (the location of his flat and details of friends and family).
He is not the only one. From Republicans making racist remarks to bankers slagging off their bosses, it is a long and sorry list.
“Everyone knows that a lot of companies make a beeline for Facebook when they’re looking at potential recruits,” says Charlotte Butterfield, managing director of Law Absolut, the legal recruitment firm. “It’s a form of due diligence and your profile on Facebook should be broadly the same as the person you present at interview.”
Jenny Ungless, career coach at Monster, the jobs website, says everything should pass the granny test: “If you wouldn’t tell your granny, then don’t put it on the internet.”
However, social networking sites engender a false sense of intimacy and people often post in haste. So, if you’re going for a new position, what can you do to disinfect your online presence?
You should begin by typing your name into a search engine and look at the first few pages of results. Few prospective employers are going to go much beyond this.
There is a broad hierarchy of things you should not have posted. “Top of the list is making derogatory comments about your current or previous employers,” says Sal Remtulla, head of employee screening at the Risk Advisory Group.
Next are racist or sexist comments and references to illegal activities. Talk about hard partying and legal, but wayward, activities come third and can often be only borderline problematic.
Those who are worried might then wish to take a look at their Facebook account settings. There is a whole raft of settings allowing you deal with everything from basic information to tags on photos and comments you have made.
“You might want to change the privacy settings so that only friends can see your profile,” says Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management, “but that can still leave quite a lot. If someone’s posted a photo of you half-naked, you can ask them to take it down but not much else.”
Sites such as YouTube also now let you delete comments that you wish you had never made. But there are still plenty of websites where your comment will stay posted for ever. You can ask the site owner to take it down, but the terms and conditions will almost certainly mean that they are under no obligation to do so.
Ms Ungless says that another strategy may be to create more positive material about yourself to provide a counterbalance to less flattering information: “If a prospective employer is Googling you, there’s quite a lot you can do to augment what they find. For instance, if you join sites such as LinkedIn, you blog about work and you contribute articles to industry forums, these will quickly start to show up quite high in search results.”
And even if you have a persistently negative search result you just cannot dislodge, Ms Ungless advises: “At least you can be prepared – and don’t forget that most employers are reasonable and will forgive the odd party photograph.”
Jakob Nielsen, an IT usability expert, believes even a commonsense attitude may not prevent future trouble. “One problem is that it is impossible to determine what will be considered acceptable behaviour in the future,” he says. “
You can bet that there is material that is considered reasonable for a student to say today that will get people into hot water in 30 years, when they may be under consideration for the Supreme Court.”
In the meantime, perhaps there is one group of people that does not have to worry. With almost 80m Google results, the John Smiths of this world can probably post anything they like with impunity.