Companies allowed to archive 7 years of your Facebook life, sell info

Think that uploading those drunken photos from the recent party to Facebook are a good idea? Think again. It appears that the Federal Trade Commission is now allowed to keep anything you posted publicly to Facebook/Twitter/Flickr/anywhere else for up to seven years before it must be destroyed. 

Forbes reports that the FTC have approved a start up company that monitors employees' internet presence, named "Social Intelligence Corporation." The company scours the internet for information about individuals, and will look at information that is public about a user, and provide it to potential employers upon request. It's worth noting that most employers will probably try and look you up online, but probably not to this level.

Forbes tested this by requesting a report from the company, and even though the user hid most of their details, they still managed to dig up some dirt because the user is a member of a public group that "leans towards racism" (pictured above). In another test, they found that a user had been attempting to buy Oxycontin and Marijuana on Craigslist and reported this to the employer (pictured below). 

Up until today, it wasn't clear if this practice was entirely legal, but now that the FCC has approved it, the company is free to do as it pleases. Social Intelligence offers the services they provide to any company, and actually creates entire files on individuals, however they claim that they only use the databases as a "chain of custody" in case it's ever needed for legal reasons, and when they are approached by a company they will run a new search and base the report on current data rather than past.

Even then, the Social Intelligence COO, Geoffrey Andrews says that "[Social Intelligence] stores records for up to 7 years as long as those records haven’t been disputed," but adds that "If a record is disputed and changed then we delete the disputed record and store the new record when appropriate."

The best bet you have against a company like this is to lock down your Facebook profile and be careful what you tweet, share or blog about, because it could come back to bite you. Even small things such as "liking" an article or passing on one are included in this kind of information, so it's best to watch every activity performed online.

Image Credit: Forbes

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20 Comments

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yeah good luck with that seeing as I don't live in the U.S. it's not going affect me much most employers here a lazy Bstard tight wads who wouldn't pay you to walk across the street and pee on them if they were on fire let alone pay some security company for info on you

Another reason not to have a Facebook account.. this site will die soon anyway but why feed the monster of no privacy?

The issue of privacy is fading, but user choice and I have to say I think the younger generation (I'm in my mid 40s) doesn't have as much to worry about as the fear mongers suggest. If "everyone" has some hidden/naughty/illicit details, then companies are going to have to hire someone.

My mother (in her 70s) worries about the lose of privacy, but does not understand that with credit cards she does not have the privacy that she thinks she does. I'm not saying that having private thoughts/life is not going to happen, I just believe that it's not going to be that big of a deal. But hey, I've been wrong before.

My Facebook profile is not only private, it does not appear in the search results. I only add people I know whom have my email address and can search for that.

Not the point if your profile is private or not the point is it's the equal of going for a root round someone's home, a public Facebook profile is just looking thought someone's windows if the employer sees something though that window that makes you unemployable, then I would ask the employer why are you looking though my window spying on me even its public no trust these days. I wouldn't want to work for an employer who looked at my public Facebook profile for assessing my employability.

Something to consider for those who have the settings set to post everything to the world on Facebook. Nothing that affects me though.

Northgrove said,
Something to consider for those who have the settings set to post everything to the world on Facebook. Nothing that affects me though.
Neowin is publicly viewable so make sure you either post nothing incriminating or leave no possible trace of matching your Neowin handle to anything personally identifiable!!

Yay, Society can officially & legally screw themselves now!
Everything posted on facebook & craigslist HAS to be legit right? I mean theres NO way someone could make a fake profile about you, or post ads on craigslist and link them back to you. 7 years ago.

This company must be supoenia'ing IP addresses out the ying yang to PROVE its research is legit. right?

Oh! Ohhh Snap! LOL I am sure people will still say, "I have nothing to worry about because I am not doing anything wrong.".

Slugsie said,
OK, so all future job applications will have a clean fresh new email address just for that purpose.

yeeeaaa i have about 8 different email accounts so.. i dont think i have anything to worry about fo rnow at least.

kabix said,
This new generation's phenomenon to create accounts using real name is gonna bite them back!

Just wait until they implement the Internet ID system lol.

Oh dear But to be fair, if someone has an open (Facebook) profile in the first place they deserve to be reminded of that. It isn't that clear if they also go to the length of "friending" them during the info gathering process either?