The debate about the legality of a potential employee using your information from Facebook and Twitter to determine your employment status has finally ended. According to ABC News, The Federal Trade Commission has given permission to the Social Intelligence Corp. to sell reports including personal information from social networking sites to employers and the file will last for seven years.
So while you may not be guilty of the obvious crimes of posting too many belligerent pictures, talking openly about racism, homophobia or drug use, you should now also be wary about the company you keep on these sites. It is also legal for a potential employer to turn down your application for knowing someone with a criminal record while not violating any employment discrimination law.
"You can be deemed a bad apple by association," says Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum. "Are all your friends gay, rich, poor? Do they all live in California or New York or Kansas? What are your hobbies? Do they look expensive or entail high risk?" If so, Dixon warns, your chances of landing that dream job, depending on your would-be employer's predilections, may go poof. The employer's decision not to hire you may be ethically outrageous. But it's not illegal.
As scary as this may seem to most job seekers, Michael Fertick, Founder and CEO of Reputation.com, predicts that the background checks of tomorrow will only continue to advance with more sophisticated technology with tools such as facial recognition software, used to identify job candidates in photos surfing across the internet without the need to rely on the human analysts being used for Social Intelligence, the only company currently specializing in conducting Internet background checks that are compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
I have always been appalled by what some of my friends find comfortable posting online, whether its pictures, crude language or open hostility to others. I agree that Facebook and Twitter should be included in any job search because it is information that we willingly share online and it is our job and responsibility to be cautious of what information we choose to share. However, I disagree that a company should be able to determine your employment based on the friends of your social networks. My friends and their actions do not reflect upon my own and should not be a factor in the hiring process.
How do you feel about the newest form of background checks? Do you agree or disagree?
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