By now, everyone knows that it's unwise to post on Facebook those scantily clad photos of yourself doing tequila shots, because a potential employer might see it and get the wrong (or right) idea. Google searches have become almost standard operating procedure for most employers looking to fill positions, and the self-posted, photographic proof that you walk on the wild side does not reflect well on your sense of responsibility.
But now there's a vetting company that really gets into the deep, dark details of your digital life, even researching what you "like" on your Facebook page, which could inadvertently show you in an unflattering light.
Let's say you hit the "Like" button on the comment: "I shouldn't have to press 1 for English. We are in the United States. Learn the language." The background check company Social Intelligence could label you as "racist," according to Forbes tech blogger Kashmir Hill.
And Social Intelligence will keep their findings on you in a file for seven years, although they will do new searches on you each time a potential employer requests it. So unless you remove those questionable photos and comments from as many as seven years ago -- before most socialsites existed and employers even dreamed of using them to vet potential employees -- you could be ruined.
And it's not only Facebook that you need to worry about. Social Intelligence searches everything you've said or posted to Twitter, Flickr, MySpace, the internet in general -- even some of your comments on articles and blogs. That negative Tweet two years ago about the color of someone's shoes? Who knows how that will be taken?
Now, lest you think that this potential privacy invasion is illegal, know that the FTC just determined that Social Intelligence Corp. is in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. At least for now, the government seems to allow this profiling, which some might consider invasive, to continue.
But this state of affairs puts us all in a frustrating position. If you go off the radar and decide to drastically reduce your online presence, potential employers might think you're not tech or socially savvy, and certainly out of touch with current trends in information sharing and gathering. On the other hand, if you really put yourself out there, one seemingly innocent tweet could cost you a job.
Your only hope might be that future bosses are forgiving -- or that they don't conduct such extensive background checks.
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