Swiftly shifting technological trends, the 21st century allows people to access endless solution possibilities to ever-growing problems. One of the ongoing problematic debates concerns individuals’ behaviors- in the cyber world. The morality line has faded as many people fail to hide mistakes and neglect traditional value systems. In fact, their negative behaviors are happily flaunted throughout the internet for the world to see via social networking websites such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. Most effect is seen in the workplace and an individual’s role as an employee or employer. Employers are using these sites to keep a keen eye on potential and current workers and this practice has been condoned and condemned by many. Neal D. Mollen, a lawyer with Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker states:
I think it’s unlikely employers are going to learn a good deal of job-related information from a Facebook page they won’t learn in the context of a well-run interview, so the potential benefit of doing this sort of search is outweighed by the potential risk. (Kirszner 244)
Most people ignore the fact that upon opening internet browsers, they lose their cherished privacy. Whatever information is posted online can be accessed by hackers, corporate companies, and even ordinary amateurs. An era full of technological dependence, social networking websites increasingly gain popularity with millions of users for Facebook alone. Many people have multiple accounts to several sites and use them to interact with the world around them. Reuniting with old classmates, following celebrities, and finding potential dates are some of the reasons for activating such accounts. However, many fail to realize that people use these sites for another purpose: hiring or firing employees. Things individuals post for the world to see says much about their real personality and ethics. People complain that employers should not invade privacy nor intertwine public lives with work. According to Jennifer M. Bombard of Morgan, Brown & Joy, employers may tend to base these decisions holding strong biases against potential candidates for a position because of minute personal factors which is unethical. Therefore, she recommends having documented “legitimate business rationale for rejecting applicants” (Kirszner).
However, those on the spectrum’s opposing side argue that not only should employers base their decisions on social network pages but they have an obligation to utilize these resources for the larger good. Learning more about potential or current workers’ public lives is imperative as this will affect their work habits and ethics alongside molding the company’s image and reputation. Employers are obligated to ensure others’ safety and make sure no one will affect others around him or her negatively. Furthermore, employers have the right to “spy” around since they are investing time, money and other resources in every worker.
As for employees, they must be cautious when posting pictures, comments, or blog posts online. This is because along with bosses, colleagues affect a person’s job and one should take care not to offend them. Colleagues can easily spread negative news to employers for personal gain or for the company’s good. It should be remembered the internet is a public domain and there is no privacy despite believable claims, and one has to live with one’s choices. In fact, people can utilize social networking profiles to their advantage by attracting potential bosses through honest, healthy, professional, and positive traits, similar to “selling” oneself via a charming resume. The key is to play it safe and not flaunt bad habits or weak moral standards online. Nobody may claim perfection but it is how one presents oneself that matters. Employers do not want someone who will throw away the positive attitude along with the suit and tie after a great interview and get back to a hypocritical life but are looking for honest individuals.
Many company reputations and individual lives were saved because people decided to use people’s public profiles as make it or break it factors for hiring. This is because employers were smart to use these resources to their advantage. People have been saved from accidents because a hallucinating drug addict bus driver was fired after flaunting his addiction online. Others have been fired because of their negative attitudes affecting fellow colleagues and company image and still others have been refused positions because of indecent pictures and jokes. Employers have the full-fledged right to pick and choose the best available candidate to represent them and therefore the right to check on that candidate just like checking credit reports, criminal history or conducting routine background checks.
- Clark, Amy. "Employers Look At Facebook, Too." CBS Evening News. CBS News, 11 Feb. 2009. Web. 20 Oct. 2011. <http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/06/20/ eveningnews/main1734920.shtml>.
- Kirszner, Laurie G., and Stephen R. Mandell. Practical Argument: A Text and Anthology. N.p.: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2010. Print.
- Searcey, Dionne. "Employers Watching Workers Online Spurs Privacy Debate." The Wall Street Journal. N.p., 23 Apr. 2009. Web. 20 Oct. 2011. <http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124045009224646091.html>.