Tooling around on Facebook the other day I came across a posting by a friend and former co-worker who was hot with a capital “H” over this story.
The article’s about a company that’s being hired by employers to conduct background checks on potential employees. But these aren’t your run of the mill checks. No, this company, called Social Intelligence, combs the Internet, checking an applicant’s online behavior for the past seven years. Right-to-privacy proponents (and my friend as well) worry this is an egregious overreach and will give employers an opportunity to discriminate based on things like sexual orientation.
Okay, here’s my take and it might not be the most popular one but pay attention, all my little friends on Facebook and Twitter.
What you put online, in social media forums, IS NOT PRIVATE! You put it out there to be shared, to be laughed at and passed along. You don’t get to be righteously indignant when the photo of you getting trashed with a lampshade around your nether regions keeps you from getting a job on Wall Street.
My incensed friend contends that if someone does their job well Monday through Friday, it shouldn’t matter what he or she does in his or her private life, off the clock. But doesn’t what we post online lend an insight into who we are as people and what we believe? What if someone in line to teach my little brown babies had posted a bunch of photos of themselves in Klan get up at hate rallies? Should I be concerned about that? You’re damn right I would!
As I’ve said before and will reiterate, the danger becomes when an employer uses information culled from online sources to discriminate, a very real concern. But where does right to privacy butt up against my right to know? For that, I fear, there is no easy answer.
But what about you, do you think companies like Social Intelligence are overstepping the bounds of privacy? Should they be shut down or do we just need to be more careful about what we do in our online lives?