You Have the Right To Free Speech, Except…!

Photo Courtesy of:  www.18to25.org

Photo Courtesy of:
http://www.18to25.org

When we log onto our social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, we tend to use this to unwind with our thoughts and express our opinions. I mean, after all, we do have the right to free speech, right? Just because it is online does not mean it should stop with limitations; we should not need to watch what we say or do, right? Actually, employers say otherwise. You have the right to free speech, except when someone is watching. According the The Huffington Post, employers will actually skim through your profile on Facebook before offering you a job (Ryan 2013). This concept seemed really bazaar to me, considering this is your place to be social, not to necessarily be professional. Don’t get me wrong; I know we are supposed to watch what we say, however, to what extent?

Once I found out that employers would actually read through your Facebook profile; I asked myself, what exactly are they looking for? Are they looking for you with a drink in your hand, political views, concepts on life, I mean what exactly are they looking for? I went browsing through different research areas to find the reasoning for the madness. One of the first sites I visited was nolo.com. On this website they offer legal assistance and provide legal insight. They noted that it is very legal for employers to look at your Facebook page. Employers report rejecting job applicants when they find references to drug use, heavy drinking, sexually offensive materials, violent imagery, and so on (Guerin). Of course reading this information I had many concerns. For instance, we share, like, and comment on a lot of posts that are not relevant to our lives per say. Some things just spark our interest. For instance, if I am into advertising in the beer sector and I repost or comment and share a lot of their ads does not make me a heavy drinker. However, by reading my profile, you have already made a determination about me that may not be true. With this same information I reviewed how legal this was. Although it is legal to review these public profiles, there are legal limitations when it comes to reading a profile. For instance if a profile is viewed it can reveal if you are pregnant, your race, your culture practices, and your age, which can all lead to discrimination lawsuits.

Picture 1

Photo Courtest of: Forbes.com

With this information being available to anyone it is important to have a professional online presence. Although this should not be the end all be all for a job candidate, it is obviously being looked upon as a reference in the hiring process. This seems like an unfair way of doing things but if that is what your employer’s looks to, it needs to be cleaned up. Take steps of cleaning your page:

  • Make sure there is not any crazy spam leading to sexual exploitation on your page.
  • Steer clear of curse words in your statuses.
  • Choose the picture that doesn’t include you with a drink in your hand.
  • Don’t upload so many wild party pictures on your page.

If you are going to post theses things then be sure that your page is very private. Remember, you have the right to free speech… Except on Facebook!

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Photo Courtesy of: Forbes.comReferences

REFERENCES:

Guerin, L. (n.d.). Can Potential Employers Check Your Facebook Page? | Nolo.com. Nolo.com. Retrieved July 8, 2014, from http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/can-potential-employers-check-your-facebook-page.html

Ryan, R. (2013, March 4). Yes, Employers Will Check Your Facebook Before Offering You a Job. The Huffington Post. Retrieved July 8, 2014, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rachel-ryan/hiring-facebook_b_2795047.html

 

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6 thoughts on “You Have the Right To Free Speech, Except…!

  1. I’m not a big fan of social media. I registered a Facebook account six years ago, but the total post under my account is less than 30. Since I’ve known that the employer would judge a person by his or her Facebook account, I even deleted some negative posts on my personal page. I used to think social media, like Facebook is an emotion outlet for many users to escape from the reality a little while. Then I began to realize that social media is still a public place, users have to take responsibility of every words they posted on it.

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  2. This post couldn’t be more true! I remember back in college, we always had professors advising us to edit our Facebook feeds, because at one point, employers would take a look. I never really thought that was true until one of my internships. They were a PR company that did media training for athletes. They had us look through athletes’ accounts and screenshot anything politically outrageous, sexually offensive, inappropriate or illegal. They then did a presentation with the athletes to show them that ANY of this info is public and there for any eyeballs to see – including future employers. That really stuck with me because I used to be careless. I immediately put the highest security on all my accounts, cleaned up all of my social channels, and tailored everything to look a bit more professional and a lot less “college-y”. I instantly felt more professional. I do think it helped play a part in my current role, however, I do not think employers should base decisions SOLELY on social media. That is very biased. If you have an extremely intellectual person who has very professional skills, a few pictures with a beer shouldn’t hurt their chances of getting a job!

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  3. I feel bad because i am the person who wants to work in blogging so image is everything. I believe that your online presence should be seen and not heard. By that i mean everyone should see you but not hear crazy things about what you post. I also believe post things that you are proud of! I would not hire a person who posted pictures of smoking weed and drinking everyday. That is just how the cookie crumbles.

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  4. This is an old story that unfortunately not many people know and the problem is even more dramatic for the new generations that are still in the elementary and middle school and do not realize how dangerous is make public every single stupid action that are normal at their age but can ruin their future. This is way California recently approved a law allowing an erase button so that minors can erase embarrassing posts from their profile and have a FB profile as clean as possible in the perspective of their future job hunting.

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  5. My husband and a few of my friends work in the education field. Somehow it worked out that they were doing their Masters at the sam time, just in different institution. So, also around same time, they a;; started creating “professional” Facebook accounts + letting me know to not really post on the walls of those accounts.

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  6. Exactly, now almost every recruiter from firms and companies are watching social media channels of their employees. And for most of the HRs, the first thing they do is to Google an applicant. And all those social media companies have done a great job on SEO so that your Facebook, LinkedIn, and other pages always pop up first.

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