There has been plenty of news about the link between employment and having a Social Networking account. If a person is applying for a job, many businesses will search for that person’s MySpace or Facebook page, giving them an insight into their personal life. Depending on the content of your pictures, this can make the final decision for many companies before they accept or decline your application. If your account is filled with pictures of you having a lovely time in peaceful settings, you should be fine. If your photos often show you getting drunk on the weekend, you have lowered your chances of employment. Even if you are employed, you still have to be careful about what you type. Is this a good procedure for businesses to take? For the companies, it is an effective way to view applicants without suspicion, making sure their workers will actually work. In terms of privacy, problems then begin.

Facebook Privacy

George Lenard is an employment lawyer who believes that the procedure is not entirely legal. The invasion of privacy is, of course, the main topic of this post. Facebook responds of the frequently asked question ‘Can I see the profiles of people on other networks?’ with this message:

“Facebook was intentionally designed to limit the availability of your profile to only your friends and other people on your networks. This simple but important security measure promotes local networking and makes sure that your information is seen by people you want to share it with, and not by people you don’t.”

Settings within a Facebook (and other social networking) account are diverse in the amount of information that can be displayed to certain others. However, is is easy to be careless and everything open to everyone. Because of this, companies can easily view profiles of their applicants and check every picture. However, there is nothing illegal in what has been done. If somebody does leave their account secure and a company hacks past the block, then a crime has been committed. Otherwise, businesses are free to continue their methods.

In his article, Lenard makes a point about the Facebook terms of service, which state the following:

“You understand that the Service and the Web site are available for your personal, non-commercial use only.”

According to this term, nobody is allowed to use their account for business-related intentions. Although it is not directly stated, this would also imply that Facebook users are not allowed to perform business with other profiles. As far as the terms and conditions go, companies should be banned for viewing profiles for commercial use. Facebook Incorporated is structured around such privacy, so the rule is clearly reinforced. Other social networking sites are likely to have similar terms. However, these actions would be hard to control. Even if moderators did ban companies for employment reasons, it would be very hard to catch one doing so. In the end, there are two things that can be done to make sure this is not a problem for you.

For the first option, you can moderate the content on your profile, to make sure that no businesses would count your actions negatively. Since the Internet will always have a record of your pictures, even those that have been ‘deleted’, this choice should not be fully trusted. The other option is to not have a social networking account at all. I am happy, even proud of not having a profile on Facebook, MySpace, et cetera. But that is my personal choice, since I cannot help those with addictions to Facebook.



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