Apr 18

Avatar of Cindy Hopkins

Digital Footprints… and privacy.

A digital footprint… Honestly, it’s not something I thought about much before this course. I figured if someone is interested in knowing where I have been and what I am doing, they must be really bored. My life is interesting to me, my family and my friends… but anyone else, well, why?

Now that I am blogging, my thoughts on my digital footprint are changing. I want people read what I write. I put time into my posts – some more than others – but many are thought out and I do like to see that someone has read them and even better when they respond.

This makes me think about our students. They don’t really think about who outside their target audience will see their footprint; much like I used to think. The next question is: is it our responsibility to educate them in this area. Yes – I think it is. Will they get it? Not entirely, but someone needs to start the thoughts in their head and maybe even reinforce what their parents might be telling them.

In the article, Your online reputation can hurt your job search, Kim Komando goes straight to advice about how to fix the problems that already exist: take down inappropriate content you have posted, email the sites that you don’t control and ask that they take down unflattering content, essentially it is damage control.

I want our students to take a step back and think about what they are posting before they post it. (I actually think I may be speaking a bit as a mom here.) So, my challenge and maybe ours as educators, is how do we do this? What is our responsibility?

A few weeks ago, The Today Show had a piece (Can employers ask for your Facebook password?) on companies that not only check out your footprint by visiting your social media sites, they actually are going as far as to say to an interviewee, log on to your Facebook account so I can access your account. Not, show me your Facebook page, no, log into your page and let me have full access. If you don’t, we won’t hire you. I was shocked when I heard this – but they quoted several places doing this as a standard part of the interview process. It is apparently very common if you are interviewing in the field of law enforcement and the financial industry.

I personally think this is going too far. That’s like saying, let me have your password to your email account so I can read all your email, etc. It is way beyond our digital footprint and online reputation. It’s private.

What do you think?



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  1. Avatar of ismcornelius

    I agree that during a job interview when the employers ask the interviewee to log into Facebook is going too far. I’m wondering if this is not illegal, or will soon be illegal. It’s illegal to ask an employee or potential employee what their religion is, if they are married or if they have children. Logging into someone’s Facebook page would give the employer answers to those questions that illegally they are not allowed to ask. Having access to some one’s Facebook page is a completely violation of that person’s privacy. Unfortunately the job market is getting so competitive that the employers now have more options, if the employee or potential employee says no to logging into their Facebook, there are 20 people behind him/her that will.

    1. Avatar of Cindy Hopkins
      Cindy Hopkins

      That’s the problem… the 20 that will. I am not ashamed of anything on my Facebook page, but they have no right to go into my page carte blanche. I would choose not to work for a company that employed such tactics, but I say that as a fully employed person with choices…

      Thanks for the response. :)

  2. Avatar of Seth Blodgett
    Seth Blodgett

    If the employer world is going to keep going down that path then people will make sure that they clean up their Facebook pages before their interviews. This will not prevent the employers from hiring people who do things that are inappropriate, but only from hiring those who are too careless to erase the evidence. One of the drawbacks of basing your hiring from looking at Facebook pages is that people will tend to only hire people with similar interests or politics. Conservatives will see a liberal post and not hire that person and liberals will see a conservative post and not hire that person. The world will become more polarized as people surround themselves with like-minded people and everyone will get sheltered from a diversity of ideas. Or maybe we will be surrounding ourselves with like-minded obsessive cat lovers or like-minded obsessive fitness gurus.

    1. Avatar of Cindy Hopkins
      Cindy Hopkins

      Wow – that is an interesting perspective… I need to think on that one. Don’t we kind of do that in some ways in a traditional interview? I guess Facebook just makes it easier and more obvious. A good thought to ponder!

  3. Avatar of grantrolls

    Hi Cindy,
    Another thing to think about is interviewees usually go in with their game face on. Part of that game face in the future will be online as well. I can totally see a personal social networking site and a corporate SNS for those needing it.
    The CSNS would consist of subscriptions to things that align with the employers philosophy and maybe a select friends pool that you trust.
    The other options are to not use your real details on your PSNS limit your personal detail information; screen anything that goes on; or my current favorite if you had a good time at university; close it all down and reinvent yourself.

  4. Avatar of Clint Hamada
    Clint Hamada

    I am seriously troubled by employers who would use access to my private online spaces as a condition of employment. So are some Senators who think it might be illegal to do so.

    I agree that it is private. If I’ve done something illegal/immoral and have managed to successfully navigate Facebook’s difficult privacy settings to ensure that it is not on display, then that’s a good thing, right? Of course, if evidence of that illegal/immoral act ever sees the light of day, then by all means I deserve to dismissed. But like a Senator says, we would never let our prospective employers read our private journals or diaries as part of the hiring process; why should we let them view the non-public areas of our online lives?

    1. Avatar of Cindy Hopkins
      Cindy Hopkins

      I am glad to hear that there is an investigation into this. Thanks for the link and the response!

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