OUR VIEWS: You never know who's watching

Jul 17, 2012


Previously private topics upon which an employer could not tread are suddenly becoming available for scrutiny online via this social network.

In Michigan, there are many things under state law that employers cannot ask job applicants. This includes whether he or she has a disability, whether he or she is a member of a union, or an inquiry as to an applicant's credit standing.

While would-be employers regularly contact those listed as references, contacting past bosses not listed as a reference is generally considered off-limit. That same would-be employer can easily spy your Facebook page, however, to get a fairly accurate portrayal of who you are based on your posts.

Bragging about the kegger you went to the previous night, calling in sick to work due to that party, or uploading some less-than-appropriate photos of yourself might raise a red flag for your employer or anyone considering hiring you.

While it is easy to shrug this off in the age of social media, a current or would-be employer need only to read or view such undesirable Facebook posts to make a decision placing you out of favor. And you'd never know why.

A recent study sited in a CBS News report indicated the frequency with which companies are using Facebook to monitor employees or potential hires is increasing rapidly. According to the article, experts believe that around 20 percent of employers are scanning the social networking sites used by potential or current company employees.

The trend by corporations and businesses to find out more information about their possible hires and current employees will likely continue to increase until it becomes standard business practice — or until legislation limits or prohibits organizations from collecting this type of information.

Social media sites like Facebook are not the casual venues you might imagine. Members cheerfully divulge information and display photos that many employers would take issue with regarding character or conduct.

And for those who like posting degrading comments toward your employer, you might find yourself among the unemployed and never know why.

It's time those on Facebook start thinking of what they place on their "wall" as a portfolio rather than a place to vent or act cool through inappropriate behavior.

You never know who else is watching you.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Kevin Collier, Nick White and Liz Stuck. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.


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