Social media role still in question
Published: Sunday, September 30, 2012
Updated: Sunday, September 30, 2012 14:09
The debate continues over the place of social media in today’s society, and one question that has yet to be thoroughly answered still remains: Where is the line drawn between an individual’s personal and academic/professional life? Does that line still exist?
Two legislative measures passed last week in California, AB-1844 and SB-1349, explicitly banned questionable practices by employers and universities. Specifically, they banned asking for an applicant’s social media login information and/or to view it during the interview process. The interesting part about these bills is the fact that California Penal Code 502(C) is already in place and deemed these practices illegal.
The penal code states that employers and universities cannot perform these actions “knowingly access and without permission,” meaning they could ask applicants and they could say no, but would not be hired or accepted, forcing applicants to play by their rules. In some cases universities were also able to use this as a pretext for disciplinary proceedings against a student, etc. The new bills state that these entities are not even allowed to ask individuals for the information.
Individuals who aspire to professional positions or an academic future should view social media and general information sharing that occurs over the Internet with extreme caution. To many, sites like Facebook and Twitter are utilized for seemingly pointless everyday time wasters, but in reality, social media outlets continue to perplex employers, lawmakers and governments with regard to their place in the physical world. Regardless, it is apparent there is a substantial impact of some kind that continues to perpetuate the argument. These sites are still so new that it becomes difficult to evaluate the detrimental implications they have on communication, information sharing and what remains accessible in these cases. Employers and university admissions panels expect applicants to sell their souls at the behest of admission or service. While it is not unreasonable to expect individuals to act as an extension or representation of that school or employer on property or on the clock, outside of these times, it is no one else’s concern.
This is the reason background checks exist. The argument goes beyond the obvious assumption that individuals do not post profanity, nudity or distasteful/illegal things about themselves or others; this much seems obvious. What is more troubling is the fact that individuals may experience unfair treatment for being gay, of a specific religious denomination or having any unfavorable political or social views that do not align with a university or employer’s preferences. If an individual does not choose to disclose these facts or bring them into school and the workplace, an individual should maintain the right to make that decision. These personal aspects of someone’s life are not anyone else’s business but whomever that individual chooses to share them with, end of story.