Remember – the Internet is a Public Place

News today that the now-former Mayor of Arlington, Oregon was recalled by voters due to controversial pictures she posted on her MySpace account provides us with an important reminder of something that should be (but is not always) rather obvious.The Internet is a public place.In the employment context, employers and employees should remember, then, that prospective employees’ MySpace accounts can be viewed by employers considering whether or not to hire a particular individual.
According to CollegeGrad.com, a job seeking site for college students, a full 47% of college grad job seekers who were polled indicated that they had or were in the process of revising their MySpace or Facebook accounts to remove less appropriate information that could be viewed by a potential employer. That figure was from 2006, so I am hoping (for the sake of college grad job seekers) that the number is even higher now.According to CollegeGrad.com,

“There is a growing trend in the number of employers who are Googling candidates to research for additional information,” said Brian Krueger, President of CollegeGrad.com. “This trend has now spilled over to the use of Internet social networking sites, such as MySpace and Facebook, for screening potential candidates.”

Also, from the same CollegeGrad.com story, a student alleged that,

“It violates the privacy of the applicants,” said Shantice Bates, a Mass Communication Major from Virginia Commonwealth University. “A person’s MySpace or Facebook pages really have nothing to do with their work personality.”

Privacy? Remember, when you post something to the world wide web, you post it to the WORLD WIDE web. It no longer is private, when you publish it for all to see. As an employer, you certainly have the right to review an applicant’s MySpace or Facebook sites and decide not to hire the individual on the basis of information contained there (assuming, of course, that the “objectionable” information you discover is not related to the individual’s race, age, disability, etc.).And employees… remember, the Internet is a public place.

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