I’d really like to think that this is just one of those cases where the freedom-hugging liberati (like me) have leapt onto an urban legend and become prematurely outraged. You know, like those shitstorms over whatever sexy thing kids were supposed to be doing with coloured wristbands.
But it’s getting reported on the AP, and so I think the ACLU is right to object when companies are demanding that potential employees hand over their log-in details to social media sites such as Facebook as part of the recruitment process.
I need a job. I’m still waiting for an interview from any of these basic admin roles I’m firing off copies of my CV for. But I don’t need one badly enough that, if someone asks for my Facebook password to check out my background, I can’t afford to tell them to fuck right off.
If you’re going to consider hiring me, there are certain things you have a right to know about me. The information provided on my CV, and the way I carry myself and answer personal questions during the interview, should cover most of it. But things like my private Facebook updates, my direct Twitter messages, my personal emails? None of your fucking business.
There are things I do and say when I’m unguarded and among friends, which are different from my actions in public or in the presence of people I don’t know. Maybe there are things in there I wouldn’t want a potential employer to see, but it is absolutely not their place to generalise from my private, unguarded musings to conclusions about how I’m going to behave as an employee.
Go back ten years. What if employers then had demanded to read your diary? Browse your internet history? Get a log of all the text messages you’ve received and sent? Check what magazines you keep under the mattress? Examine the doodlings in the margins of all your school exercise books? (Mostly cocks, right? And balls. Mostly cocks and balls. Right?)
None of that would have flown, so what’s supposedly different now? If it’s not information I’ve made publicly available to everyone, if it’s not something I’ve freely discussed with you, and if it’s not a criminal conviction in a field relevant to my prospective job description, then it’s not something you have the right to learn about me.
I might personally be tempted – if I were in that situation, and before I told them just how very off they could fuck – to ask some prying questions of my own, to help me decide whether I really want to enter into a contract with this company. Maybe a close look at its financial records, an analysis of any tax loopholes employed, details of executives’ pay as compared to both company performance and median salaries… that kind of thing.
But of course, these are large corporate entities we’re talking about, and I’m an unemployed worker. It’s clear where the power lies in such relationships these days.
Postscript: Did you know that, before the internet, people often had quite wide nets of occasional acquaintances, and would socialise casually with numerous people, rather than remaining largely isolated or sticking to a small bunch of like-minded allies? I know, right? Crazy times.
Well, maybe not so crazy. If you’re a regular reader or commenter here, let’s be PALS (Personal Associates of Low-level Sincerity). Drop me a line on Facebook letting me know who you are, and let’s broaden those social horizons a little.
(Note: This is an experiment in alpha testing phase. I may get bored of you at any moment, without warning, and go back to just using social media to talk to my actual friends. Nothing personal.)