Thursday, March 29, 2012

Privacy matter

Has everyone seen the article/news story about people who have been asked to give out or log into Facebook while in a job interview? Here is the link to one of many internet articles about it. In light of the recent decision of the House to reject the Password Privacy Amendment, this is my thoughts on the matter.

Since reading this article, my mind has gone back and forth over this issue. On one hand I do understand this is an easier and much cheaper form of a background check. I also understand things that are put on Facebook are "public" and therefore everyone has a right to see it. I also understand that when you agree to the terms of Facebook you are almost waiving any and all rights to anything and everything that you or anyone else puts up. I do understand, to a point, that background checks are expensive and would not necessarily turn up anything about gang affiliations a person might have. However there is a different side as well.

For some people, such as myself, I keep up a Facebook account because it allows me to stay connected to present and past friends. Whereas fifty years ago, I would most likely be writing letters to friends every single day, now I can simply send them a message in Facebook or write on their "wall." In this aspect, and most likely because of the industry I currently work in as well as want to work in, I do not see the need for potential or current employers to look through my Facebook account, or to request my log in information in an interview. This economy is horrific, it is difficult to even get an interview most of the time, however to me, to ask for my Facebook information would be the equivalent of giving a person my house keys. I am fairly political on my Facebook, and love to listen to both viewpoints for my friend's political rantings. Would I want others to see this information? I do not think so. I am not a banker, nor a trader or a police officer. I have no desire to be in those industries, nor do I have any desire to gain any political or government position. So on this particular issue, I would have to say, employers have no need to gain access to my information. However if I did want a position such as was listed, I could understand.

One such article spook on how a correctional officer, for a state prison, was asked for his information to Facebook, in this case I do not see an issue with it. When dealing with prisoners, or prior felons I would want a complete background check, including this to ensure not only the safety of the inmates but also the safety of the fellow officers. However on the flip side, say a banker applies for a job and is told he has received a job offer. The company asks for his Facebook information and because they find he is a gay male, the job offer is rescinded. Is this constitutional? There are many HR practices that would state otherwise, and the person would be able to sue the company over this. But how far is too far?

Can there be a line drawn in the sand that states who can be asked for personal information such as this? I have very mixed feelings about this. While I do think it should be allowed for certain positions, at what point during this type of background check would a company be able to rescind a job offer without discrimination, and to what extent should Facebook "control" what users are allowed to post? Should all of this type of information be controlled by Facebook? Should Facebook be the one to say, "You cannot post materials such as this on our social networking site."

These are just my thoughts so far.

Personally I have made a decision to change my name on Facebook, Twitter as well as here. I also made the decision to unlink all account I have from one another. I no longer have my LinkedIn linked to any other account. A good thing? Maybe, but for now it was the decision I made, and being a free country, I can unmake my decision at any time.

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