Employers May Destroy Social Media Marketing through Invasion of Privacy
Last week, I was giving much thought to a Social Media topic that would do more than just fulfill an obligation to myself to publish a new post each week. Sure, I could share some useful tips for businesses looking to leverage the full power of Social Media Marketing. After all, most business executives are interested in learning how to increase sales revenue through the use of the latest and greatest online strategies and tactics. I also wonder how many business owners are fully aware of the irreparable damage they may be doing to our society by using Social Media, inappropriately and – in some ways – distastefully.
I ask corporate CEOs to carefully consider the following questions. If Twitter controlled the life support function for hospitalized people, should an insurance company manipulate its functions to put some terminal people out of their misery to reduce costs? If Facebook allowed your real estate company to put a family out of their home so that you could buy it cheap, would you ever exercise that option? If Social Media were a gun, would you point it at a stranger and pull the trigger if it benefited you in any way? These are valid questions for those allowing profit and loss statements to obscure matters of common decency.
You may be reviled by the shear mention of such thoughts, but apparently, there are a growing number of employers, who are willing to force strangers to open up their private lives for hiring consideration scrutiny. If you as a business leader are able to reconcile such an action; you probably think it is fine to invade a person’s right to privacy simply to satisfy one company’s curiosity about what he or she does during their own spare time. Are you saying that a business entity is entitled to own one’s personal life along with the work he or she provides during paid work hours? Exactly where does this right come from? It’s not in the Constitution.
Since When Did We Need to Invade Personal Privacy Rights to Consider Someone for a Job?
It used to be that employers carefully screened resumes, thoroughly interviewed candidates, and professionally conducted criminal background checks and drug screens to determine the suitability of job applicants for hire. Most trained human resources professionals also relied on their gut to determine who got hired and who did not. Is all this no longer enough to make an educated employee selection? Whatever happened to an employer’s right to discharge unsatisfactory employees during his or her initial period of employment, “At Will”? Is this not enough of a failsafe mechanism to insure and protect quality performance in the workplace? It has been such for many past decades. What has changed?
Yes, there are many individuals, who place their lives online for public view – without placing any viewing restrictions. This is a free choice that some people exercise. In these cases, employers are welcome to see what the user has deemed public information with no special permissions. However, no one really has the right (except – perhaps – for legal authorities) to see restricted information that is locked away from public scrutiny by password protection. No employer or anyone else has the right to make unlocking their personal information an absolute condition of employment.
Credit Scores Were Intended for Car Buying and Not Job Getting
What is going on in human resources these days? These are some of the same people that have also had the chutzpah to request credit checks on all those applying for jobs including even those not being considered for positions involving collection and disbursement of company funds. Credit checking used to be reserved for bondable employees, period. That made perfect sense to avoid embezzlement and company theft of funds. Checking everybody’s credit does not make any sense. Not when you consider that many unemployed people have fallen behind and must have a job in order to feed their families.
Here is the dilemma. We don’t place people in double jeopardy in the American court system, so why are we punishing people twice by denying them a living by making them unemployed and then keeping them from a new job offer because they are already the economic victims of unemployment? Some companies are placing recruiting ads that say “currently unemployed people need not apply.” This is all cruel and unusual punishment. What has inspired such a total lack of regard for our fellow Americans, just want to collect a fair wage for a fair day’s work? Why all these new hoops to jump through?
America is Fighting Back with a Loud and Strong “It is None of Your Business”
Fortunately, the American people are not sheep and are fighting back. California lawmakers have voted to block employers from using consumer credit reports when they are deciding whether to hire workers for most jobs. They have stopped the use of credit checks in hiring, except for managers, law enforcement, financial jobs and certain other positions that handle valuable items or information.
The bill’s author, Democratic Assemblyman Tony Mendoza of Artesia, says credit checks often are inaccurate and hurt minority and female job seekers. Opponents say they are a useful tool for employers assessing the integrity of job candidates.
A credit report is not a good indicator of a person’s trustworthiness or work ethic,” says Mendoza.
“Consider the condition of the economy and the negative effect these circumstances can have on a person’s credit — a credit report is an unfair lens through which to view job applicants,” he says. “Preventing someone from becoming gainfully employed due to a poor credit history is shameful,” says Mendoza.
No, You May Not See My Personal Information
Regarding this newest attack on personal privacy, it was Facebook firing the first shots in a battle that promises to end in the US courts. In a blog dated March 23, 2012, Erin Egan, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer, responded to recent news reports of employers “seeking to gain inappropriate access” to the social media profiles of job applicants and employees. She also said that Facebook would “take action to protect the privacy and security” of users and consider “initiating legal action” where appropriate.
Those anti-employer sentiments were also summed up by members of Congress, recently.
“Employers have no right to ask job applicants for their house keys or to read their diaries – why should they be able to ask them for their Facebook passwords and gain unwarranted access to a trove of private information about what we like, what messages we send to people, or who we are friends with?” asked New York Senator, Charles Schumer.
“In an age where more and more of our personal information – and our private social interactions – are online, it is vital that all individuals be allowed to determine for themselves what personal information they want to make public and protect personal information from their would-be employers. This is especially important during the job-seeking process, when all the power is on one side of the fence. Before this disturbing practice becomes widespread, we must have an immediate investigation into whether the practice violates federal law – I’m confident the investigation will show it does. Facebook agrees, and I’m sure most Americans agree, that employers have no business asking for your Facebook password,” says Schumer.
Employers: You Won’t Sell to People You Have Taught to Despise You
No. A line must be drawn in the sand now regarding privacy. Employers are looking to take a mile since the Web may have it to give. In doing this, they are not only attacking our civil liberties; they are hurting themselves in the long run. If they limit people’s freedoms in social Media, they are also limiting peoples trust in this medium and discouraging its use. If business people want to get more conversions (sales) from Social Media Marketing, they need to show more respect for the trust and integrity that Social Networking must develop in order to make doing business over the Web viable and profitable.