Mark Zuckerberg is Watching
Sit down. I need to tell you something, and you may not like it.
I don't have a Facebook account. I can't read Twitter. My LinkedIn profile is like an untended yard. The last status update I had was in a hospital in 2002. "Social media" sounds to me like a sarcastic term for theater.
I hope you can still "Like" me.
While bigger technologies are working to make the world smaller, I've remained a holdout on the social media bandwagon. My friends constantly ask me when I'm going to get on Facebook, and I realize that by not participating I'm missing out on any number of invites and in-jokes. Nearly everyone I know agrees with Facebook president and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who reputedly "doesn't believe" in privacy, and they think I just don't get it.
The reason I'm not on Facebook is because I do get it.
Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) dropped an investigation into Social Intelligence Corp., a Santa Barbara, California-based startup with a unique business model: they provide background checks based on your social media presence and web history. The FTC found that, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), third party companies like Social Intelligence Corp. are allowed to comb the Internet for information, images, comments, blogs and anything else of interest to a potential employer. The FCRA further allows these third party companies to retain any data discovered for seven years.
This is, in essence, a credit check on your personality. Employers can just as easily turn you down for one out-of-context comment as they could for a years-old bankruptcy filing.
There are a few caveats, of course: an employer looking to investigate a job applicant via Social Intelligence Corp. must first get the subject's permission for the search, and must report to them any damaging information they uncover. But let's be honest, what job seeker in our post-recession economy will say "no" to someone offering a position? How many employers fully divulge their reasons for turning down a candidate?