Just read something disturbing: One in five employers does research on the web about potential employees. Yikes and double Yikes! This is scary, unsettling, and maybe even a little wrong–but that doesn’t change anything. Big brother IS out there, only now he’s not just the government, he’s the corporation, or little mom and pop business that is looking to hire (or fire) someone.
Man, I knew from my current job that employers were googling their employees, and potential employees (one of my current colleagues told me that he did a little research on me to see if I was reliable). I smiled at my colleague, but it also weirded me out a little bit.
I have a myspace account, and a facebook account. I have friends who take pictures of me, sometimes in less than glamorous situations, and then post them to their accounts. I do not mind this; it is kind of what those accounts are for. However, I do not like the idea that an employer would look at my profile, or somehow see pictures of me and then decide to a: fire me, or b: not hire me.
In general I am a law abiding citizen (sure I jaywalk every now and again, or sample the random grape from the grocery store) but that doesn’t mean that some of my antics/photos on the web are roses and bumblebees. Nor does it mean that I want to have to act like a saint all the time because someone might take my picture and put it on the web, where some future employer could find it, and then decide to fire me for it.
Get rid of your facebook account, then. I can hear people saying. And while that might solve some of the problem, it won’t fix everything. My friends can still put pictures on their profiles, the only difference is they wold have a harder time tagging me. And I shouldn’t have to get rid of my facebook or myspace accounts. I am a privater citizen and what I do in my free time (as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else) is my business, not my boss’s.
Right now, it’s one in five, but I bet, unless some kind of legislation is enacted it will soon be close to 100%. I mean, why not. There could even be whole divisions of companies devoted surfing the net, looking into their employees’ (or potential employees’) activities, and deciding if someone should be fired because they’re taking a shot off of a bare belly.
Sure, maybe we should think about the kinds of things we post on the net, but the net is there for us to share with other people. We shouldn’t be punished for what we share, unless of course it is illegal. That is a completely different story.
And it is not just social sites like myspace and facebook that are used to check up on people. Blogs are used too. In fact, the Yahoo article claimed that people have been fired from their jobs for blogging. Now, if they were blogging on the job, that is one thing, but if they kept their work life separate from their blogging life, there is no reason for this. It’s a free country, and people should be able to think (and write and say) what they want. This world just keeps getting stranger and stranger.
I did get curious, though, as to what kinds of things about myself I could find on the internet, and I ma happy to say I only found three hits. One of them was a response to a questionnaire about Free Comic Book Day in 2005, one was my current job, and the third was a statement I made to my college newspaper way back in 2002. I think all of these things are pretty innocuous and would not be cause for an employer to shun me, but I just don’t know.