New company does social networking background checks

We have been made aware over the past few years that when you post a new photo on Facebook or make a comment on a message board to be sure it's something that we want the public to see and/or read. Now a new company is making some waves by handling social networking background checks for employers who want to check to see if a possible employee is posting on various sites and message boards.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the company, Social Intelligence, has been offering such service for a little while now. Once more, their work isn't an invasion of a person's privacy at least according to a new ruling from the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has determined that if a company wants to do a check on what your hobbies or outside interests are, they can do so.

The article states that for most of you, you will likely be OK if a possible employer checks up on your personal Facebook page. Even pictures of you partying hard isn't likely to have much of an effect on an employer's viewpoint of how you will work out as a employee of a company. However if you post racist comments, display pictures that might be considered sexually explicit or have pictures showing you doing illegal things like taking drugs a possible employer will likely pass on your application.

The article also gives out some tips on how you might better present yourself online such as removing any pictures that might be taken out of context, checking your privacy settings on Facebook and Twitter or even hiring a company that will monitor your online presence and even defend you against any false negative attacks from others.

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chadlachlanross said,

If you post something as PUBLIC on the internet, no 'privacy law' can protect you from your own stupidity.
Privacy is not the same thing as secrecy. For example, your phone number is not private, yet we have privacy laws that regulate how business can use that information. Same for your address, birthday, name, etc: all public information that can be obtained quite easily.

The reason you might want to protect businesses from using internet comments against you is because otherwise there is strong incentive to chill speech, especially with the internet. If, at any point in the future, something you say could be used to marginalize you, many people might be afraid to voice a legitimate opinion. It's in conflict with the spirit of the 1st Amendment. That's the danger, and that's why a government might want to protect citizens from businesses who exploit this tactic.

Even worse: the chilling effect this has on things like satire, comedy, and other creative ideas. Why would I write an Onion-like parody if some company 10 years from now might take it out of context? Again, chilling effects.

nukenorman said,
It may be legal in the USA to do this but those on here in the EU will probaly be lucky since the European Union has strict priviacy laws protecting its citizens.
The EU is absolute disgrace. Assuming that its privacy laws do protect its members citizens then I guess it can say it does one thing right for the hundred is does wrong.

chadlachlanross said,

How would a Privacy Law change anything? If you post something as PUBLIC on the internet, no 'privacy law' can protect you from your own stupidity.

Thank you. couldn't have said it better myself. +1000

boogerjones said,
Privacy is not the same thing as secrecy. For example, your phone number is not private, yet we have privacy laws that regulate how business can use that information. Same for your address, birthday, name, etc: all public information that can be obtained quite easily.

The reason you might want to protect businesses from using internet comments against you is because otherwise there is strong incentive to chill speech, especially with the internet. If, at any point in the future, something you say could be used to marginalize you, many people might be afraid to voice a legitimate opinion. It's in conflict with the spirit of the 1st Amendment. That's the danger, and that's why a government might want to protect citizens from businesses who exploit this tactic.

Even worse: the chilling effect this has on things like satire, comedy, and other creative ideas. Why would I write an Onion-like parody if some company 10 years from now might take it out of context? Again, chilling effects.

+1 You know, you Europeans have way more knowledge and understanding about how precious privacy is than U.S. Americans.

B.S.... What happens if the person they think is me and it isn't then I don't get a job because of that, who do I sue? What happens if they say they want to see my Facebook profile before getting hired and I DONT HAVE ONE! This whole social media background stuff is BS...

and then we see what's really going on here....

"even hiring a company that will monitor your online presence and even defend you against any false negative attacks "

oh great another type of insurance company out to make some money

Stewart Gilligan Griffin said,
oh great another type of insurance company out to make some money
Exactly what I thought. How many monitoring companies do we have to hire in this day and age? Everything from identity theft monitoring, credit monitoring, and now social network monitoring?

Stewart Gilligan Griffin said,
B.S.... What happens if the person they think is me and it isn't then I don't get a job because of that, who do I sue? What happens if they say they want to see my Facebook profile before getting hired and I DONT HAVE ONE! This whole social media background stuff is BS...

and then we see what's really going on here....

"even hiring a company that will monitor your online presence and even defend you against any false negative attacks "

oh great another type of insurance company out to make some money


Tim Dawg said,
Exactly what I thought. How many monitoring companies do we have to hire in this day and age? Everything from identity theft monitoring, credit monitoring, and now social network monitoring?
That is exactly what Google+ is solving by only taking in accurate information about you. Very soon Google will be in this business one way or another.

I agree Stewart on you 100%. Sadly in America we are loosing what little privacy rights we have left. So many people have the same name they could get mixed up wich one is you. I am thinking about deleting my facebook and making a 2nd ID for me that I use just online.

I wont sign up for Google + because since google is a search engine it will make it so much easier for google to find you.

In a few years, I predict that a lot of people are going to find themselves screwed when the realise that they shared far too much on social networking sites. I for one am very careful about what I share with people via social networking now. Even though I'm certainly not racist/sexist/homophobic/etc, you never know what's going to offend a potential employer, or how exposed your information really is to companies like this.

Majesticmerc said,
I for one am very careful about what I share with people via social networking now. Even though I'm certainly not racist/sexist/homophobic/etc, you never know what's going to offend a potential employer, or how exposed your information really is to companies like this.

That may be the problem too - too less information, that you post about yourself... Think why.

P.s.: don't have fb, g+ and other stuff. For forums and similar stuff - secondary eMails and IDs

cpu said,

That may be the problem too - too less information, that you post about yourself... Think why.

Because the mainstream corporations will monopolize the background check system and make everybody else dependent on it? Yes, that can be a problem, however it's not too late to just boycott the ****ers. It is so hard to convince people about long term implications of what they are doing supporting these ******* corporations by giving up their privacy.

As long as we keep electing the right people, that are not corporate lobbyists, who bring the right amount of regulation on these corporations, I think we will be fine. The current set of Congressmen are not what we want to see ever again in our lifetimes. This needs education, some clarity of thought, and foresight, instead of calling each other "Tin Foil Hatters" and other uncalled for names.

Regardless, I recommend this to everyone to not give these corporations any more information about yourself than you already have, to always educate others and to exercise your voting rights to stop *******s from getting elected.

Edited by Jebadiah, Jul 26 2011, 6:18am :

i don't have a FB (though I had one) so I guess there is nothing of "me" on the net ...

also, while I am on the net, I could use a pseudo name thus invalidaing any search about me (and you can be a big dick if you want and still get hired)

zeta_immersion said,
i don't have a FB (though I had one) so I guess there is nothing of "me" on the net ...

also, while I am on the net, I could use a pseudo name thus invalidaing any search about me (and you can be a big dick if you want and still get hired)

If you had a Facebook account then it will be cached and recoverable data somewhere.

LordBattleBeard said,
If you had a Facebook account then it will be cached and recoverable data somewhere.
I think you would have to work with the Facebook corporation themselves on this one. Default permissions on FB would prevent any outside service from indexing and caching the data.

Tim Dawg said,
I think you would have to work with the Facebook corporation themselves on this one. Default permissions on FB would prevent any outside service from indexing and caching the data.
Even Copy-Paste? Highly doubt that.

In Finland (and likely many other EU countries) it's illegal for employers to use information found on the Internet (about you) to make a decision on whatever to employ you or not. If they get caught for that, they'll have serious sanctions waiting for them. However... unless they're actually telling you that they've done some kind of online background checking (which would be unwise since it's illegal), it's almost impossible to tell if they actually have or haven't.

I don't understand people who friend everybody on the planet. I'm not out to collect the highest number of friends on Facebook. I only friend people who are (SHOCKING!) friends, i.e. people that I actually know and have met and consider as a friend. I also restrict my profile, all information, all pictures, all posts to only friends. Outsiders can't even see that I have a Facebook profile. So, if some employer wants to check up on my Facebook, they're SOL.

fuzi0719 said,
I don't understand people who friend everybody on the planet. I'm not out to collect the highest number of friends on Facebook. I only friend people who are (SHOCKING!) friends, i.e. people that I actually know and have met and consider as a friend. I also restrict my profile, all information, all pictures, all posts to only friends. Outsiders can't even see that I have a Facebook profile. So, if some employer wants to check up on my Facebook, they're SOL.

Exactly. Only you have control over whether employers view your Facebook profile, so it's your fault if you let them see it.

Thats why my profile is locked completely as much as posible to only friends.

And no, if you work with me, you arent going on my friends list.

There's a very simple solution... don't be an idiot! All of you out there that say it's wrong for an employer to check you out is obviously not an employer and has nothing at stake. I'm a small business employer and don't want a racist/drug addict/etc. working for me. Do you?
There's also no 1st amendment issue here as you're free to post anything you wish. There always has and always will be consequences if you publicize a controversial topic. It's your right so post anything you want! It's also my right not to agree!

"The FTC has determined that if a company wants to do a check on what your hobbies or outside interests are, they can do so"

and the problem with that is that it probably wont just stop at checking on "your hobbies or interests" and who's to say they don't continue to monitor your FB page and report anything suspect back to your boss even after you've been employed

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