Privacy Does Not Exist Online

A company called Social Intelligence could be standing between you and your next job. It’s become commonplace for potential employers to examine online profiles of applicants, and Social Intelligence provides this service to business.  It certainly makes sense in that employers are practically guaranteed to browse through data that they are required by law to disregard in the hiring process; Social Intelligence goes through this data and passes on only information that is relevant, legally, to each candidate.  This ensures that employers cannot be held liable for any sort of discrimination in the process.  For this reason, it’s likely that more businesses will begin to use some form of social media screening in the hiring process.

This screening process ends up ruling out perfectly qualified candidates for arguably irrelevant reasons.  Max Drucker, the company’s chief executive, “recalled one man who had 15 pages of photos showing himself with various guns… Another man included pictures of himself standing in a greenhouse with large marijuana plants” (Jennifer Preston, NYT Article).  The Times article does not state whether this information prevented these individuals from obtaining jobs, but these instances must have been memorable to the CEO for a reason.  These pictures would certainly encourage a potential employer to look elsewhere, but are the images truly relevant?  I don’t think so.  Not only is there no crime or real moral deficiency portrayed, but there is no avenue available for the applicant to offer explanations.  The applicant is not aware that these images are included in his application.  Thus, he cannot say “I was curious, so I visited a legal marijuana farm but I’ve never smoked marijuana and will submit to a drug test.”

Should these social media screenings be legal?  Perhaps there need to be further restrictions on what is and is not accessible, as well as a requirement of dialogue between parties if some aspect of media serves as a detriment to an applicant’s chances.

The bottom line: there is no privacy on the internet.

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