Posted by: Navy Teacher | March 23, 2012

Social Media ~ A curse or a blessing?

There are more than 800 million active users on Facebook.  I mention Facebook because it is the most popular social media outlet in the world.  There are several other social media outlets out there like twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, and this blog for example.  I decided to include Linkedin because the site claims to be the “World’s Largest Professional Network.”

You might be wondering why I posted the picture of the ossified (drunk) gentleman with his face in the urinal.  I’ll get to that in due time.  For now, please follow my hypothetical story.  Assume that a young man similar to the one depicted in the picture is looking for employment.  He sent out his resume to many companies in the area.  He received a call from a human resource manager who already checked him out through Linkedin.  She liked his resume and didn’t see any red flags on his Linkedin page so she called him in for an interview.  He does a great job selling himself as the best candidate for the job.  Towards the end of the interview the human resource manager tells him that she was unable to view his Facebook page so she asks him to either open up his Facebook account for her or provide her with his login and password.  He is appalled by her request.  What should he do?

That is a realistic scenario that is happening across America.  Some people question the legality of the request.  I don’t believe that employers or potential employers should ask for sensitive information like access to individual Facebook accounts.  However, I disagree with Orin Kerr’s assessment that asking for a Facebook login and password is similar to asking for someone’s house keys; that is like comparing apples and oranges.  I believe that an employer has the right to ask a potential employee to open his/her account or “friend” the company.  It is also the right for the potential employee to refuse.  Of course, their refusal might cost them a job offer.

Back to the young man who was asked to either open his Facebook account or provide his login and password.  He really wants the job so he agrees to open up his Facebook account.  The human resource manager browses his pictures and stumbles across the picture above along with other pictures to include friends doing keg stands, playing beer pong, and another picture of the individual smoking a questionable substance from a water bong.  The young man tells the human resource manager that those are old pictures and feels they don’t truly reflect upon his character.  How do you think the human resource manager would feel about seeing those pictures?  In this scenario, the human resource manager thanks him for his time and tells the once promising candidate that “we’ll be in touch.”

Welcome to the 21st century where companies conduct background checks by conducting a simple Google search.  I’ve typed my name in to see what comes up.  I found that there is a world-famous Irish musician who shares my namesake and there are seven professionals with the same name in Linkedin.  If I do a more detailed search by including my name with Navy I found some information about my previous employment.  I’m happy to say that there wasn’t any erroneous information that could be detrimental to my future employment quests.

As an aspiring teacher, I believe it is my duty to ensure students understand the tremendous benefits of using social media and the potential pitfalls that they should avoid.  I also believe that it is a teacher’s responsibility to model appropriate behavior within the realm of social media for his/her students.

Please share your thoughts on this subject.

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Responses

  1. I love this blog. It really gets to the heart of the matter…common sense and good judgement. I not only mean this for the interviewer but also the potential employer. As i spoke of in my blog an employer is not always getting the full picture from the person sitting across from them, they are getting a partial acting job. But a potential employer must also take into careful consideration what they find on the social network and weigh it with the entire interview with comparision to others. It is a touchy subject.

  2. Thanks for your blog – this, along with a twitter post, compelled us to write some of our own thoughts…http://wp.me/p1ekUI-8x

  3. Of course, no one wants possibly damaging information to be found about them, so one might heave a sigh of relief when not much information is found when searched for. However, we are now in the age where it is becoming expected that GOOD information IS found when searched for…and when one has a virtually nonexistent digital footprint, it sends a message that one is not actively present in the 21st century of knowledge sharing and communication. Of course, this is more true in some professions over others. But, it behooves the 21st century teacher to create a strong and professional digital footprint that demonstrates new competencies, digital fluencies and literacies, and professionalism. The challenge today is to leverage a digital footprint in powerful ways rather than hide from it due to careless or thoughtless online action.


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