Sullivan adds that student athletes around the country have also been forced to ‘friend’ a coach or administrator on social networks, so they can keep a close watch on what the athlete is posting online.
He explains that the prisons want to know if any of their guards are flashing gang signs in their photos. The colleges want to avoid embarrassing incidents caused by athletes posting inappropriate things – or, in the case of North Carolina defensive lineman Marvin Austin, who apparently was flashing a bit too much bling on Twitter for an otherwise unemployed student-athlete, NCAA investigations into illicit contacts with sports agents.
Still, this is wrong on many counts. If prisons managed to hire guards before Facebook existed, they can still hire them now without forcing them to open their social networks. If you need to scan Facebook to find out if someone is a Blood or a Crip, you’ve got bigger problems. Worried about a student athlete embarrassing your college? Having them keep their accounts private (and educating them on what is and isn’t appropriate to post) is the best way to do that.
Essentially, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks have turned into de facto background checks. The problem: Actual background check agencies are somewhat regulated; consumers have some protections about how the information is used and who has access to it. Not so with social media -- at least, not yet.
Granted, if I were an employer, I would probably look at the Facebook profile of someone I was considering hiring, just as I would call their references. If I was looking for someone clever and creative, for example, I’d expect their Facebook profile to be clever and creative. But if the profile was private, I wouldn’t attempt to coerce them into revealing it. And if I did, why would any sane person want to work for me?
Got a question about social media? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Visit his snarky, occasionally NSFW blog eSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynanwrites. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.