Archive for November, 2010

How Private is Your Privacy?

You may think that all it takes to get a job is a killer resume, excellent references and to charm the pants off your interviewer, but have you ever thought about your Facebook profile being the reason you don’t get the job? Phyllis Korkki of The New York Times investigates the usage of Facebook as a background check.

Korkki mentions that when you apply for a job, they typically ask your permission to do a background check on your credit and personal information to make sure everything is accurate. They also check references to make sure your resume information does just the same. If you turn them down or don’t allow them to run the check on your information that is typically a red flag, which is why most job-seekers oblige with strangers looking up to see if they really got that 3.8 GPA back in college or paid all of their mortgage payments on time. This way, if you don’t get the job, you will know it was because you are unqualified or someone was more qualified.

Using search engines has changed the game for potential employees according to Barbara Safani, who is the owner of Career Solvers, a career management business in New York. When interviewing Safani, Korkki learned that a lot of employers just type your name right into any search engine and find you. She also mentions that it is almost impossible to erase yourself from any search engine, but you can place yourself lower by adding positive entries about yourself.

Korkki also interviewed Lewis Maltby, owner of the National Workrights Institute, an advocacy group. He mentions the privacy level of your Facebook page is the main factor of how easy potential employers can find you. It also wouldn’t be too difficult for an employer to add one of your friends on Facebook just to see your profile. So in the end, a picture of you with an alcoholic beverage or something inappropriately said on your profile could leave you unemployed for good.

The fact of the matter is that it is highly expensive to hire the wrong person and have to replace them. Companies are looking for the perfect candidates to work for their organization and they are just protecting themselves by looking at all aspects of your life. It is in your best interest to either increase your privacy settings or delete materials that won’t get hired for the job.

The video below is an illustration of the privacy problem with Facebook. John Quain talks with Michelle Gielan of CBS News about how easy it is for potential employers to find you and what you can do so that you can keep your Facebook page and still get the job.

In this video, you will get an in-depth look on how to change your Facebook privacy settings. The video above mentions how to do it as well, but Larry Magid of CBS News gives you a step-by-step tutorial of how to do it so you can keep your friends, but also keep the potential employers away from seeing your page.

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Who Needs Privacy?

The topic we are exploring is user privacy. User privacy (internet privacy) can be loosely defined as the desire to want everything you do over the Internet (chat, purchase, etc.) only is between yourself in the comfort of wherever you desire to use the Internet. However, sometimes we can’t have everything we want and that is definitely the case with Facebook.

According to Miguel Helft of The New York Times, when you first sign up for Facebook, you share your personal information with them. You then decide who can see your profile and the social networking site states that they will oblige with your wishes. What you might not know is that the reason you see advertisements on their site that appeal to you is because they use your personal information to personalize what ads to show you.

Another thing that seemed interesting in Helft’s article is the fact that Facebook acknowledged that through many of their applications, like the popular game Farmville, personal information was shared improperly with advertisers and Web Trackers.

What is the most perplexing is the fact that experts on privacy seem to be divided on the subject. Some are saying that this is a very serious subject like Peter Eckersley. Others are saying that there is no evidence of improper use of personal information.

Regardless of what everybody else thinks, it is up to Facebook to respond to the current situation. As of four days ago, The New Zealand Herald reported they have taken affirmative action to stop any third-party applications from sharing information with Web Trackers and advertisers. This shows that user privacy may not be a big deal to some experts, but it is important to the users of Facebook.

Today, The Washington Post reported that Internet privacy could be a key priority in the next congress. Republican Joe L. Barton is pushing the issue after meeting with Facebook executives on privacy issues. They say that legislation on Internet privacy can happen as early as two years due to its support by both Democrats and Republicans. This goes to show that privacy is huge issue across America and that someone is doing something about it.

In the video below you will see another case of user privacy. Wayne Madsen, of the popular online forum Wayne Madsen Report, talks about many watchdog groups throwing Google under the bus for violation of user privacy. Wayne also goes on saying that Google entered into an agreement with the NSA to share security threats. There are also many countries that have had problems with Google and their privacy policies.
Take a look.

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