Monday, March 26, 2012

Rant #702: Facebook Work Up

We have all been on job interviews.

A resume is an essential tool during the interview process, as is a cheery disposition and a desire to be employed by the company you are interviewing with.

But in today's Internet age, companies evidently want to make extra sure that the person they are hiring won't be a complete embarrassment to the company, so they are asking applicants for their Facebook account information, and checking up on them through this popular social website.

People are getting outraged because of this, saying that it is an invasion of privacy.

This story has received incredible coverage by the media, and yesterday, two U.S. senators, one from New York and one from Connecticut, stated that they will ask the Justice Department to investigate whether employers are violating the law by asking applicants for their personal information related to Facebook and other social networking sites.

Democratic Senators Charles Schumer (New York) and Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) said they will ask the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to examine this practice too.

Facebook itself has said through press releases that this practice by employees is "alarming," and violates their rules to users that they should not give out their personal information related to the site--including passwords--to anyone.

In addition, the senators argued that by requiring applicants to provide login credentials to potential employees, these employees would gain access to information that is not permissible to ask for verbally on a job interview, such as religious affiliation and sexual orientation.

I think the senators have a point here.

Facebook has become the site of choice for many on the Internet, and I think most people use it as sort of a virtual chat area, where they put up everything from light, personal stuff to opinions on various topics.

Others use it for other reasons, and yes, some people abuse Facebook.

When you hear about people putting up nude photos of themselves or attacking others for their beliefs, you know that Facebook has become the current Wild West on the Internet.

Why employers would want to check out a potential applicant's site is beyond me, and it really is nobody's business--except the people you want to view your stuff, your "friends"--what you say or do on the site.

But on the other hand, if a potential applicant did willingly put nude photos up on Facebook, or had opinions that were against the norm that he or she posted, let's say racist rants, I guess I might like to know about them if I were considering hiring someone.

I think the bottom line here is that people should be careful about what they put up for others to see on Facebook, and they should really limit who they choose as "friends."

The laws are so skimpy on what rights anybody has to their own personal information--or, as this situation develops, what rights others have to your information--and to protect yourself, I wouldn't put up anything that will get you in a pickle.

But again, "anything that will get you in a pickle" is open to interpretation. Something that is really tame might be considered nefarious by a potential employer.

For instance, if you are a Yankees fan, have proclaimed it on Facebook, and your potential employer is a die-hard Red Sox fan, would that force your potential employer to re-think your application?

I know that that is a pretty tame example, but it could happen.

So be careful, but "carefulness" is really in the eye of the beholder here, and that is why I back the senators in their plight.

What you might think is nothing with nothing might be considered to be something more by a potential employer. Heck, I've got stuff up on Facebook that I am quite proud of, but honestly, the more I think about it, some people might think some of the stuff is pretty incendiary.

And as for this blog ... well the beauty is really in the eye of the beholder, isn't it?

However, I firmly believe that during the interview process, your resume and/or application, and what you say and how you say it during this process, should be the barometer used by potential employers to determine whether you are a good match for their company, not what is on a social networking site that has holes as big as dark holes that users--and these potential employers--can drive through and crash in.

Watch what you put up--you never know who will be lurking.

And that should really be a general rule anyway.

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