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Employers, and the employees who grovel before them

This story in the NYT made me realize that if I had to hire someone, I wouldn't hesitate to Google them if I had the time and the curiosity. If I found out that the candidate had a myspace page that typically looks something like this (sorry, Shelby, I just needed an example and your page came up), I suppose I'd flush their resume down the toilet too. Not for doing drugs or posting immature shit online (that's none of my business), but for being stupid enough to act as if they think the things they put online are private.

The one thing that troubled me about the NYT article, though, is the way employers are getting access to Facebook information:

Facebook, though, has separate requirements for different categories of users; college students must have a college e-mail address to register. Personal pages on Facebook are restricted to friends and others on the user's campus, leading many students to assume that they are relatively private.

But companies can gain access to the information in several ways. Employees who are recent graduates often retain their college e-mail addresses, which enables them to see pages. Sometimes, too, companies ask college students working as interns to perform online background checks, said Patricia Rose, the director of career services at the University of Pennsylvania.

In other words, new employees sell out their former classmates to their employers.

If the Facebook posters think what they've put online is any less private than a myspace page, they deserve what they get. But it's still disappointing to know that employers can co-opt their new employees so easily.

One of my supervisors during my law school years (who shall of course remain nameless) was a bit put out when I refused to use my summer Westlaw and Lexis passwords to do job-related legal research. I'm not usually a stickler for the rules, but I'd clearly agreed that I wouldn't use my personal summer access to Westlaw for my employer's benefit. I would have been even more reluctant to use my Facebook access (if I'd had it) to help my employer run background checks. That kind of thing feels groveling and supine to me. But there's no guarantee that even I -- hard as it may be to believe -- would always say no to these kinds of employer requests. What if I liked my boss and hated my ex-classmate? Then it'd be, "Sure, I'll dig up this guy's Facebook page for you. Heh heh."

The moral of the story, again, is if you don't want the whole world to read it, don't put it online. There's always an old classmate out there who's too eager to say "yes" to their boss.

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