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Why Making Facebook Private Won't Protect You 550

itwbennett writes "Facebook's privacy settings, such as they are, don't hold up in the face of prospective employers who demand to see applicants' profiles. In an MSNBC report, Bob Sullivan found that 'in Maryland, job seekers applying to the state's Department of Corrections have been asked during interviews to log into their accounts and let an interviewer watch while the potential employee clicks through wall posts, friends, photos and anything else that might be found behind the privacy wall. ... Meanwhile, on the other side of the barbed wire fence, coaches and administrators are forcing student athletes to 'friend' them in order to monitor their activity of social sites."
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Why Making Facebook Private Won't Protect You

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  • An easy solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @09:06AM (#39286439)
    Never register there, period.
  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 08, 2012 @09:08AM (#39286451)
    Between cell phone location and call logs, and Facebook, Americans now volunteer for a kind of self-surveillance the former USSR only dreamt of having on its citizens!
  • Decline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @09:09AM (#39286461)

    We all seem very determined to turn our countries into fascist states don't we? This sort of intrusion into people's private lives shouldn't be tolerated, but the public outcry is negligible.

  • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @09:11AM (#39286481)
    Simple until a prospective employer asks you to log in.

    "I don't have an account." = Liar. Don't hire him.
    "I don't have an account." = Something to hide. Don't hire him.
    "I don't have an account." = Antisocial, won't work well with others. Don't hire him.

    "I don't have an account." = Has a brain, probably won't follow my instructions unquestioningly and take the blame for fuck ups silently. Don't hire him.

    The only winning move is not to play, and by that I mean walking out of interviews. Yes, easier said than done if you don't have a job, but hey... "They tree of liberty..." etc.
  • by AGMW ( 594303 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @09:21AM (#39286567) Homepage
    How about maintain two FB profiles, one for friends and one 'work safe' one with work colleagues on it. I know several of my friends kids maintain two profiles, one for friends and one for Mum & Dad and it works a treat!

    Of course, you could just ask them to login too, and you can skim through their page(s) whilst they do the same to yours! As others have said, simply tell them you're not on FB (or any of the others) but you are willing to start one up if it is a requirement.

    ... and my personal favourite, ask them to send you a friend request and you'll consider their application!

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @09:23AM (#39286583) Journal
    On the other hand, someone who assumes that everyone has a Facebook account is probably not someone I'd want to work for. Someone who delegates something as important as communication to a third party with no incentive (financial or otherwise) to act in their interests is probably not someone who is going to make good business decisions. They're likely to pick supplies based on what the salesman says or what everyone else is using rather than actually analysing what is the best tool for the job, for example.
  • by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @09:25AM (#39286615) Journal

    Practically that'll probably work (although it's by no means guaranteed), but it shows tacit approval of this invasive idiocy when the real response should make clear that what they are doing is wrong. Of course, that does assume the ability to walk away from a job opportunity without excessive repercussions...

  • by gorzek ( 647352 ) <> on Thursday March 08, 2012 @09:31AM (#39286687) Homepage Journal

    Except an employer doesn't need you. They just need someone. If it's a highly competitive position, they aren't going to give a shit if you walk out--they've got 100 other candidates to pick from, and only a handful might pull the same "I'm not sharing my Facebook info" routine.

  • It stopped being your private life when you posted it to the Internet.

  • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @09:34AM (#39286719) Homepage

    The users of Facebook are the advertisers, who get a look at the large database collections. Of course Facebook caters to their needs.

    The ones with the profiles on Facebook are the suppliers of information to be sold to the users.

  • by glop ( 181086 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @09:42AM (#39286801)

    Indeed, that's why we need to sue them for discrimination and any other statute that applies.
    We just need one high profile case that just settles and their lawyers will be advising all employers to stay clear from Facebook.
    And Facebook could help: they could update their terms of service to make it a violation of their terms of service to allow people to look at your Facebook page since it invades the privacy of the other users that trusted you.

    Facebook (or Google) has a role here. They can organize the defense of their users. If they don't, I expect people will have a bland Facebook page and do all their fun interaction on some other website that allows nicknames and doesn't let you search by public names...

  • by DrgnDancer ( 137700 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @09:48AM (#39286861) Homepage

    No, employers need an employee more than you need them. If you're the only applicant, that certainly gives you an advantage. The chances that you're the only applicant are slim though, and much slimmer for a menial job that anyone can do like Walmart checker. For a highly skilled programmer or senior network/system/database admin position it might be said that the employer needs "you"; for a security guard or cashier's job the employers needs a body. If your body walks out, the next one will probably do just as well. What the article talks is some bullshit, and something should be done, but telling a guy with a mortgage and two kids to just "walk out" on a position when he's unemployed is bullshit too.

    These days I'm lucky enough to be in the pool of people with skills and experience sufficient that employers want "me", not just someone; but I've been in the position of guy who needs a job and needs it now. It's not a fun place to be.

  • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @09:49AM (#39286873)

    Tell the that's the same as asking to know your age, religion and national origin and you intend to file a claim with the EEOC.

  • Many, many reasons (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anti-pop-frustration ( 814358 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @10:05AM (#39287057) Journal
    Why Making Facebook Private Won't Protect You?

    - Because posting something you consider private on facebook (aka publishing it on the Internet) is stupid and careless
    - Because facebook employees have unrestricted access to your account
    - Because it will be hard if not impossible to *actually* remove your information from their servers and backups
    - Because facebook contracts moderating content to outsourcing firms and everything you post there risks being reviewed by an under-vetted, unfulfilled person on a dollar an hour in an internet café in Marrakech. []

    This is for all you "If you haven't done anything wrong, what do you have to hide?" and "You're one in a million, nobody cares about your insignificant neck-beard life" apologists: Don't you see why it is bad that all that private information is aggregated and under the control of a single entity?
    Even if it is done with reasonable safeguards and the best of intentions, which is definitely not the case with facebook, the simple fact that all this information exists online, tied to your real name, means that the potential for abuse is immense. And this is time it's not even facebook doing the abusing and profiteering, it's just an external third party.

    And when you've been unemployed for a substantial amount of time and you are desperate for a job, who has more power over you than a potential employer?

    Give up your privacy, pledge allegiance to your employer. Don't you love the neofeudalist world we live in?
  • by nitehawk214 ( 222219 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @10:29AM (#39287331)

    I had one prospective employer ask if I had a FB account. "No. That's just too first grade for me."

    Interesting reaction. He really wanted to ask something, but he kind of shut down in three of four steps and went on to something else.

    No, I didn't take that job anyway. Other reasons. You can always out-wit the PHBs.

    But did/do you have one?

    I suppose I would answer with a question "Why do you want to know?" (Yeah I know this pisses a lot of interviewers off. I am not one of them, however, I want people to answer my interview questions with another question, it shows they are thinking.)

    If they just wanted to use Facebook as an example for some scenario, I would answer differently than if someone someone wanted to mention their batshit insane policy.

    Regardless if I have x or y social media account, I will respectfully and efficiently terminate any interview where social media contact is an issue. Regardless of the legality or ethics of snooping personal info, I just don't see myself working at a place where that level of pervasiveness is required. As an interviewee I actually ask about personnel policies. Most people do not even know about them until they read the employee handbook (well after they have accepted their offer and started work).

    This is related to companies with the "we own anything you think about while you work here" policy. I worked at a place that got acquired and decided to change the agreement to including a "no side work" policy, and you cannot work in the "same industry within 100 miles any city we have an office (by the way we have an office within 100 miles of every city in your country)" policy. I just flatly refused to sign the new agreement, and informed my coworkers to do the same. The company allowed us to add a grandfather clause on this. And even then they tried suing a group of my friends that left for a competitor.

    I lost track of where I was going with this, except that... "Fuck any company that tries to implement an overreaching employee policy. Especially if it is legal."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 08, 2012 @10:58AM (#39287707)

    Considering that the interview was for work in a prison, perhaps there's another reason?

    If I were hiring people to be peace officers, and asked them to show me their Facebook profile during an interview, I would not hire anybody who accepted and let me look at the profile. If they don't understand that it's wrong to search without probable cause to suspect wrongdoing, then I don't want them in that job.

    Then again, the fact that I think like that would probably disqualify me from being in a position where I'm making that kind of hiring decision....

    So you'd fire a bunch of highly competent and nice people because they fell to detect some test that might not even make sense unless you realize it's there? If you FORCE me to show you my facebook profile, then I'll ask walk away from the interview. If you ask though, I might not mind (but I will certainly question you about).

    The reason you're disqualified from working in HR is not that you think differently, it's that you try so hard to hire 'the best' that you'll end up firing the best and hiring the second best.

  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @11:12AM (#39287935) Homepage Journal
    So...what happens when you tell them you do not have a Facebook or other social website account?

    I mean, I don't have one, I have no need for one...and I value my privacy.

    Kind of hard to prove a negative, eh?

  • by zzsmirkzz ( 974536 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @11:34AM (#39288299)

    That said, I've held a security clearance, and known people with even higher security ratings; and even the Feds don't go demanding to see your Facebook profile. This shit is ridiculous.

    Not to mention all of the information the hiring manager can get that they are legally not allowed to ask - like your martial status, whether you have kids, your religion or political views. This is why I would refuse, and I would tell them so, basically, it's illegal and I would report it immediately.

  • Agreed. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brain-Fu ( 1274756 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @12:55PM (#39289543) Homepage Journal

    The right to work is mis-envisioned. Most people who think they have a right to work don't realize that it translates to a requirement to employ liabilities and lose one's business. The bigger issue, though, is that most people see the having of a job as the only means by which they can subsist, and so they consider it an extension of the right to life.

    We are entering an era of such technological ascendency that very few people must actually work in order to provide for the subsistence of the entire population. Capitalistic values do not work well in such an economic landscape. The fact that civilized governments pay landowners to NOT grow food, in an effort to protect a market, while children go to bed hungry within their own borders, demonstrates the absurdities of this disparity.

    Of course...people who can't find jobs are not content to just die. They absolutely will turn to crime instead, where they will either:

    a) take your wealth from you by stealing it, to your detriment, or
    b) receive free food and clothing, paid by your tax dollars, in jail.

    We will be providing for their subsistence one way or the other. It would be better, however, if humans could maintain a more enlightened means of solving the distribution problem.

  • by s73v3r ( 963317 ) <> on Thursday March 08, 2012 @02:03PM (#39290493)

    I think that as the employer, you have the right to ask whatever questions you want.

    I don't. And I think such thinking is leading down the path to where your employer has absolute control over your life. And no, not everyone is in the position where they can "just quit", especially when doing so means going to work for some other asshole who has the same ideas.

    The idea that employers should be able to do all this shit just because they're the ones with the money needs to die a terrible, terrible death.

    That said, I also think the potential employees need to grow a spine and stop answering to unacceptable demands.

    While that would be great, the fact of the matter is, not everyone is in a position to do so. Most people place a lot of value on the ability to eat and pay rent.

    The answer to, "I'd like to see your facebook profile" is, "and I'd like to be billionaire and not have to go hunting for jobs. We can't all have what we want. I'd also like to not work for someone who would wish to invade my privacy in this way, and that's a goal I can actually achieve. Thanks for your time, but I'm not interested in the job."

    And then the unemployment office comes calling, and wonders why you've blown the 3rd interview you've had in the past 2 weeks.

  • by s73v3r ( 963317 ) <> on Thursday March 08, 2012 @02:06PM (#39290553)

    you're starting to now have to deal with the entitlement generation

    How is it "entitlement" to actually believe that employees have rights too? Or is it back to the whole, "That person has more money, therefore they're better than you" argument?

    they don't understand that it isn't their right to have everything they want

    And yet, here you are arguing that it is the employer's right to have everything they want. Double Standard much?

    but hey, if an employer wants to us these methods to screen people, well, it is my choice to not work for that employer.

    Not everyone even has the courtesy of an illusion of choice. For many it's either take this job, or starve.

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard