I’ve noticed a Facebook trend where people will post a simple question or request advice and follow that up with a lengthy codicil that basically pleads, “Don’t be an asshole” E.g.: “I’m going to my cousin’s wedding in Tampa. Anyone have any hotel recommendations? Please no comments about how Florida is a cesspool that’s not fit for human habitation.” Or “I’m attending a work conference in Austin, Texas. Any ideas on vegan friendly meal options there? Please no comments on how vegans are patchouli-smoking hippies and I’m wasting my time by going to Texas and not eating a big steak or enjoying the local barbecue.” Or “I have tickets to a Rolling Stones concert. Has anyone gone to a big stadium show before? When’s the best time to arrive? And any tips on parking to avoid the crush when the show lets out? Please no comments on how Mick Jagger is an undead mummy and that the Stones best work was over before I was born and how arena shows are absurdly expensive.” Is this what the Internet has done to us? We can’t just answer someone’s question without unsolicited, meanspirited commentary? Or just not say anything at all? And the requests aren’t paranoid, because we’ve all read the threads where people are, basically, assholes.
Tag Archives: Facebook
Odds are your Facebook friends & neighbors fall into the following groups:
Actual Friends: These are people you see regularly off-line or would if you lived in the same city. Your ability to connect with out-of-state friends whom years ago you might have lost touch is one of the great boons of Facebook. They read your posts, comment on them, like your poorly shot photos. They amount to roughly 2% of your Facebook friends.
Facebook Luddites: They are the people who claim to “never use” Facebook, which is perfectly fine if they could ever leave it at that. However, they always have to add the codicil, “because I’m so busy” or “I just don’t have the time for it.” You might feel guilty about wasting time on Facebook if the Luddite had anything to show for his or her discipline — like a cure for some disease or even a nice piece of woodwork. And even if they weren’t snide about their non-use of Facebook, you should probably still un-friend them because they don’t add anything to the service. I’ve received more personal responses from the rare celebrity Facebook pages I follow (oh, Liza!) than I have from the Luddites.
Facebook Narcissists: These people believe Facebook exists as a public service to allow the world to closely follow the intimate ups and downs of the dysfunctional roller coaster that is their existence. They actively solicit — nay, demand! — feedback and positive reinforcement on their posts but rarely if ever comment on anything you post. You’re probably giving them a pass because they might just not understand how Facebook should work, but most likely they are this way in real life, which no one needs. A small number of these narcissists will find the time to acknowledge your existence as an autonomous individual separate from them and actually “like” the fact that you just got married or moved or found a new job. Keep them around if you wish.
Facebook Bullies: This is perhaps the most curious group. They only ever comment on your posts to disagree with you or your other friends or to mock you and your other friends. We get it, you don’t like Downton Abbey or Sherlock or whatever everyone else is discussing. You find the Buzzfeed quizzes silly. Let it go. Spirited debate is grand but drive-by attacks are pointless. Facebook Bullies also make your other friends think you collect jackasses as a pastime. Get this evil out of your swamp.
Employers at some companies are attempting to use Facebook as the ultimate follow-up interview:
It’s become standard practice for employers and schools to peruse potential applicants’ Facebook profiles. But in some cases, they are going even further: Some have demanded applicants hand over their passwords so they can view individual’s restricted profiles.
Justin Basset is just one of those individuals. Basset was finishing up a job interview, according to the Associated Press, when he was asked to hand over his Facebook login information after the interviewer couldn’t locate his profile on the site.
Well, that’s creepy.
It’s been long understood that you have no expectation of privacy on the Internet. The belief is that anything you post online is voluntary and public knowledge. You can’t write an Op-Ed criticizing Walmart and expect that not to impact your ability to get a job at Walmart. People are often terminated for writing about their workplaces in their blogs or on Facebook.
Public perception of the Internet has changed somewhat as usage becomes more widespread. Searching for information about someone online feels less like reading old newspaper articles about someone and more like rifling through someone’s underwear drawer.
Facebook serves many purposes. There are both professional and personal pages. However, it’s ostensibly an online scrapbook, a place where people share photos of their families and vacations, make engagement announcements, and wish someone happy birthday just under the wire at 11:59 p.m.
The most benign — but still creepy — reason for seeking access to someone’s Facebook account is probably to ensure that the candidate doesn’t badmouth former employers or make devil horns when posing for photos. It’s still pointless — people have badmouthed their bosses for as long as bars have existed. The issue with the devil horns is more understandable. You can’t trust those people.
However, as someone who has interviewed and hired people, I find it astounding that anyone would ask for the password to someone’s Facebook account. Sure, employees hand over their social security cards and driver licenses on their first day at work but that’s after they’ve been hired. Facebook profiles also contain a host of information that is illegal for an interviewer to ask an applicant: age, marital status, whether you have children or plan to do so, national origin, religion, disability, and so on. You can’t conceivably claim you wish to acquire information from Facebook that isn’t by definition personal. The request for access is also direct and can’t be rationalized as a slip of the tongue (i.e. “I see you attended University of Georgia? Where you still there when they were on the quarter system?”). It’s clearly illegal.
“It’s an invasion of privacy for private employers to insist on looking at people’s private Facebook pages as a condition of employment or consideration in an application process,” said Catherine Crump, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, on the ACLU’s website. “People are entitled to their private lives.”
People might seem to live their lives more publicly online but I don’t think how they live those lives have changed all that much. Mildred in accounting performed her duties perfectly well for years before the Internet more easily allowed you to learn she was a weekend dominatrix. Nothing changed but your knowledge of her off-hours life.
“In recent months, we’ve seen a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people’s Facebook profiles or private information,” Facebook’s (Erin) Egan said.
“This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.”
What Egan doesn’t say is that this jeopardizes Facebook’s product. Facebook makes a fortune selling your personal information. Sanitized, employer-background-check-proof profiles that don’t list all your “likes” or any relevant demographic details are useless to them. If people don’t feel safe to “overshare” on Facebook, it eventually goes the way of Friendster.
Then employers will have to rely on information relevant to the positions for which they’re interviewing to base their hiring decisions. There’s an Aesop fable in there somewhere.