A huge number of the world’s population has access to the internet and either is aware of or actively participates in some form of social media. Unfortunately, Facebook and Twitter follow you everywhere, even if you don’t have an account and records your browsing history and habits. Social media is the big brother we’ve feared all along. Conspiracy theories aside, it’s becoming a trend for a permanent record of you to be held on the internet for the entire world to see and all of your actions, posts and browsing history is available for potential employers and other figures of authority to judge.
People are losing jobs and job opportunities because of their habits on social networking sites. Sometimes these are good precautions that companies are making and sometimes it seems like an unnecessary invasion of privacy.
I read a post on Reddit recently where a guy’s application to adopt a dog from his local animal shelter because he made a comment on Facebook two years ago about how he thinks places like animal shelters shouldn’t be looking into your internet habits to make judgement calls about adopting dogs. I have no way of confirming if this is true, but the thought of it is sickeningly stupid. First and foremost, social media is not the same thing as a background check. If the guy was a sex offender against animals, had a criminal record of abusing dogs or had judicial action taken against him because he neglected or hoarded animals then I could understand the shelter denying him. However, you can’t find this sort of information out on Facebook and Facebook is not a reputable source of information anyway. I’m “friends” with someone who claims he was born in 1986 and is actually 17.
I’ve heard of a case where a woman was on some sort of medical leave of absence for depression and was later fired when her boss discovered pictures of her “having fun” on a vacation on Facebook. Who knows if the pictures were recent but how does that show evidence of fraud? Would the woman be fired if she took all those pictures and looked miserable? Apparently, employers will also do a search for you when considering to hire you and make a decision based on what you do and say on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Even if you aren’t doing anything illegal such as drinking underage, doing drugs or beating dogs in your profile pictures, an employer will make a decision to hire you or not based on your political views, religion, attitude, interests and hobbies. Mind you, two of these things are illegal to discriminate against.
Employers and pet shelters are taking the “public knowledge” thing too far. Yes, everything you do on the internet has a trace and you should not expect things you purposefully share with the world to be private. However, there is a distinct difference between the guy trying to get the job and the guy at home and companies should not be allowed to make a decision to employ someone based on their “off-duty” habits, especially if the person is more than qualified to work for them. There’s absolutely no reason for this sort of thing to exist.
We live in a society where we are not only attached to our social media but we’re also terribly paranoid. People want to do the whole “Minority Report” thing and try to predict whether or not they will have issue with someone based on their habits, regular people are guilty of this too and this is very prevalent in the online dating community. People will look up and “stalk” potential dates on Facebook to see what sort of person they are. I can see how this is a good idea, people often lie no their dating profiles and are less inclined to do so on Facebook. However, you’re not going to find out if your date is a serial killer this way.
The fear of being rebuked for a job or fired at the one you’re currently at leaves people feeling as though they have to censor themselves. There is common sense that implies if you’re a racist are battling sexual urges with children, you probably shouldn’t mention that on Facebook. However, if you have an opinion that does not hurt anyone else you shouldn’t be forced to only post about the stuff that’s agreeable across the board. We have a right to free speech in this country and your social media identity should not be tied to the rest of your activities and responsibilities.