1 in 5 employers use online social networking sites (OSNs) to screen job applicants. Some employers even use OSNs to monitor the activities of current employees. (Think workers’ comp fraud.) If done properly and for the right purpose, I support the use of the Internet as a tool for employers. But there are plenty of critics of the practice.
Those who are against the use of sites like Facebook and MySpace to screen job candidates cite “privacy” concerns. I don’t buy it. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to information an individual voluntarily posts on-line. Yes, there may be other problems if an employer creates a false identity for the purpose of “tricking” an individual into granting the employer permission to access his or her site or web page. But, the simple act of viewing something that was published for the purpose of being viewed, does not seem like a privacy violation from my perspective.
You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings….
Well, it did until a few weeks ago, anyway.
There is a valuable lesson to be learned from this news story. It serves as an excellent reminder to our digital society about the extent to which online content is actually protected as private. It’s not. The more attention there is to issues like this, maybe the more aware we’ll become about the lack of privacy when it comes to what we post online.
[Note: If you want to learn more about how employers use online resources in the recruiting context, you may want to check out my upcoming audioconference: March 11: 2009 Recruiting: Feed Your Talent Pipeline Using Online Resources.]