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Senators Slam Firm For Online Background Check

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the please-defend-this-comment-you-posted-8-years-ago dept.

Government 196

GovTechGuy writes "Social Intelligence Corp's online employment screening service, which preserves users' social media profiles and other data for use by potential employers, infringes on consumers' privacy and could be a violation of the law according to Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Al Franken (D-MN). The Senators wrote to Social Intelligence Corp on Monday demanding answers to a host of questions about the service and how it collects data."

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196 comments

AC Slams Slashdot In Online First Post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37449482)

first post bitches

mad skilz

Shocking. (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37449562)

Or, really not. That's why I have a Facebook account with a believable, but fake name. Good luck to all companies trying to find my social network presence. You get LinkedIn, and that's it. To any company that requires my social network information to hire me: No, you don't. And I'd rather not work for you, if you think you do.

I'm really wondering where this is headed. Dual SN-profiles for the tech-savvy, single profiles for the rest? Mandatory ID check and real name requirements before signing up for a social network? I guess Google is halfway there, but quite frankly, if they ban my profile for not being a real name, I have little use for their social network.

It looks like some of the more distopian Internet futures might be around the corner: especially those with a dark net, where a lot of communication is encrypted, private and only between vetted members of a group.

Re:Shocking. (2)

HexaByte (817350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37449678)

If they gather information from publicly accessible social networking sites, no problem. Just because too many retards are posting "I went out partying last nite and slipped a mickey in some hot girlz drink and F)*&*(d her all nite long! She woke up not knowing where she waz or what we did! WOO HOO!" doesn't mean we should ban potential employers from looking at there stupidity.

Smarter people are doing like Neutron Cowboy, living under assumed IDs. Some of us just don't give a rat's arse about social media, so they won't find us!

Re:Shocking. (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#37449912)

I don't really quite know where to step in on this argument. I personally think that companies that do these sort of background checks are taking the wrong approach to human resource management, but I also can't really stand up for someone that posts utter dribble online then whines about not getting that professional job they want because they aren't professional..

I would personally like to have to take neither side here. Companies shouldn't be doing this, and idiots should be bitter about getting what they deserve.

Re:Shocking. (4, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450256)

You know, when my parents and grandparents were starting into the job market, they were "employees".

Now we're "resources".

That kind of says it all.

Re:Shocking. (2)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450572)

Yup, totally agree. There was once a time when everyone was encouraged to do the absolute best, to do things better than they were - and it that meant spending a few extra dollars/days/employees to get the job done, then it was done. Now we live in a "that's more than good enough" landscape where sub-par is considered above average.

Re:Shocking. (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451040)

Now we live in a "that's more than good enough" landscape where sub-par is considered above average.

I'm not sure there was such a time, although it was certainly more common in certain cultures fifty years ago.

Also, if you come in under par, aren't you above average?

Re:Shocking. (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450656)

personally i agree with you - as for the start of this story - i find it funny that they thing it should be a crime, ~1 year ago a friend used me as a reference for a Top Secret Clearance, the person from DHS came in with all my finances for several years including a rental i don't claim as one (not required to). She also questioned me about Facebook & LinkedIn (which i don't use). She was very curious about any online aliases i go by - and people who i talk to online.

for them to say this should be a crime - they need to look close at them selves..

Re:Shocking. (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451762)

There's a difference between security clearance for working on state secrets, and a selection procedure to be an office monkey.

In general we let state security services do things we don't let private individuals and businesses do.

Re:Shocking. (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451012)

.. but I also can't really stand up for someone that posts utter dribble online then whines about not getting that professional job they want because they aren't professional..

There is something wrong when a profession seeks to regulate conduct beyond the bounds of the profession, whether formally or informally. If you do the job well, but you also, for example, have a drunk driving record, or a civil disobedience record, or even a felony murder record but you've served your time, why shouldn't you be able to be a doctor or lawyer where, for example, none of this has ever interfered with your duties to a patient or client?

We prohibit discrimination on the basis of race or sex or national origin. Why not prohibit discrimination based on, for example, the presence of racy photos of you online?

Re:Shocking. (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451562)

We prohibit discrimination on the basis of race or sex or national origin. Why not prohibit discrimination based on, for example, the presence of racy photos of you online?

Because most employers aren't hiring people to work by themselves without any contact whatsoever to anyone - whether other employees or customers.

I think if a person posts online saying that they did , then employers SHOULD be able to look at it and include that in their review of the person to see if they will fit into their company. Remember, this isn't about whether or not drunk driving, civil disobedience or felony murder are reviewed - all of those things can't really be hidden online. This is about posts made on social networks. If the person posted that they were "sick of getting breath tested and drink driving should be allowed" or "I simply had to kill that bitch, she had it coming..." even after serving the right time, wouldn't you feel that it is a VALID insight into the person and an employer should be allowed to see that person as they portray themselves to the public?

Again, while I think that interviews should be kept in the interview room, I do think that if you think it's okay to post things on social media networks - companies looking to employ you are within their rights to look at them.

Re:Shocking. (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451802)

"I do think that if you think it's okay to post things on social media networks - companies looking to employ you are within their rights to look at them."

Even if only shared with friends and spirited out of there by subterfuge?

I know that we on slashdot are aware that if you put it online, even locked down or under a pseudonym, it should be regarded as published to the world, but I was under the impression that was a grudging acceptance of reality, not a position to be approved of.

Re:Shocking. (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37449950)

It isn't so much about posting illegal stuff. What concerns me far more is that some moronic hiring manager might object to me posting stories about AGW, or that I think it's great that Obama won. I generally wouldn't want to work for him in the first place, but just in case I really, really need that job, I don't want that to be an issue.

Ergo, fake name.

Re:Shocking. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37450076)

Does it concern you that Obama-bashing AGW questioners might be in the same hypothetical boat? Or it isn't about the principle, but it is about who is popular?

Re:Shocking. (2)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450124)

Absolutely. It's a problem that cuts both directions. For me, it cuts in this direction. But the problem is that this type of filtering exists, not what the exact filters are.

Re:Shocking. (5, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450236)

You no longer need to ask awkward or illegal questions to discriminate. Just google 'em. "I don't want no libertarians! I don't want no republicans or democrats! I don't want no atheists or jews or wiccans! I don't want no avid video gamers! I don't want no single people! I don't want me no people with children working here!

Of course, these companies "blur out information that could raise legal concerns for the employer" and there's certainly no way the employer could expound on that initial information on their own or anything...! *cough*

Re:Shocking. (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451366)

I agree completely, but to play devil's advocate: it might be good to consolidate the filtering in a few specialized firms like this.

There was a gizmodo (?) article which described the results of running this service on their staff; iirc, it picked up only the illegal stuff like drug use. They explicitly don't report on things like "normal" partying and even pregnancy (which some companies discriminate).

Since this company has invested resources and specialized, they take on liability; you can sue them and moreover they are an easy target for class action if they screw up. I think this is probably a big improvement over leaving it to the potential prejudices of each individual firm's yokel HR department. Still not ideal, of course, but an improvement.

Re:Shocking. (3, Insightful)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 2 years ago | (#37449752)

I like how this is a story about privacy, and the article includes an example report sent to a client. But it's OK, because they blur out everything in the report. They blur out "parkerpdx", for example, so that you can't tell that the report is about someone called "parkerpdx", who incidentally has a Facebook page under that name (hi, Parker Bell, good luck with your Oxycontin biz). They also helpfully blurred out "Test Company" in the name (why bother?) and I may be able to figure out the guy's hotmail.com address if I want to spend that much time (it starts with "lynch").

So yeah, great job on protecting privacy guys, especially in the story about how this company is a threat to privacy.

Re:Shocking. (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450966)

Whoops, that report is not in TFA, it's on a page linked to in TFA (here [socialmediatoday.com] ).

Re:Shocking. (2)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451066)

A political body fails to demonstrate the type of action it requires of others?

Shocking.

Re:Shocking. (2)

Aeiri (713218) | more than 2 years ago | (#37449848)

Tech savvy Indian people, at least those around me, already have 2 facebook accounts. 1 for real use, with a fake name like you say, and one for family. Apparently families in India are crazy about facebook stuff.

Re:Shocking. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37449874)

Why would you want to work for a company which feels justified in snooping and spying on their employees in the first place?

Re:Shocking. (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451078)

Why would you want to work for a company which feels justified in snooping and spying on their employees in the first place?

Because you can make a lot more money than working for a company that doesn't?

Re:Shocking. (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37449966)

Or, really not. That's why I have a Facebook account with a believable, but fake name. Good luck to all companies trying to find my social network presence. You get LinkedIn, and that's it. To any company that requires my social network information to hire me: No, you don't. And I'd rather not work for you, if you think you do.

That's fine until they get social networks to institute policies that, with the backing of new laws if nec., make it impossible to social network while misrepresenting your true identity. Then, companies will either have your real social networking history, or they will have a "reasonable" suspicion that you are either a misanthrope or hiding something, and in either case, a poor fit for their company culture.

Next thing you know, you will be reminded when patronizing "responsible" companies that they only hire "verified" employees, i.e. not shadowy types with unknowable motivations.

Think it can't happen?

Fake name (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450260)

That's already a violation of Facebook's TOS.

Re:Shocking. (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 2 years ago | (#37449980)

Real name or not, it only takes a minimal amount of effort for data gatherers to work together or pool data together and derive an identity from you. That's one of the benefits (for the data miners) of having, say, the Facebook connect/like/whatever stuff on EVERY WEB PAGE IN EXISTENCE. Know a couple or so pieces of information about a person (doesn't have to include their name) and you can be pretty certain about who you are zero-ing in on.

Re:Shocking. (1)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450394)

Real name or not, it only takes a minimal amount of effort for data gatherers to work together or pool data together and derive an identity from you. That's one of the benefits (for the data miners) of having, say, the Facebook connect/like/whatever stuff on EVERY WEB PAGE IN EXISTENCE. Know a couple or so pieces of information about a person (doesn't have to include their name) and you can be pretty certain about who you are zero-ing in on.

Absolutely. The GP is kidding himself if he thinks that by simply using a fake name the data mining companies, whose job it is to mine data from social networks, can't find you.

And even if you are successful in hiding behind a fake name, it will be harder and harder to find work if you don't have a Facebook page. As the Facebook generation enters the workforce, it will be increasingly rare for a job candidate to not have a Facebook page. Why would an employer choose the one person in the pile who they can't find anything about to interview? This is why people need to build a strong online identity in high school and college when they have lots of friends. Otherwise, you might look a bit strange down the road when you're looking for a job.

Re:Shocking. (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450464)

Built up a strong one on myspace, didn't pan out, wont do that again.

All I got was headaches and annoyances.

I don't have a facebook page and I had no prob landing a good job. Employers appreciate good references, not lotsa friends that you never talk to and don't really know. Frankly I think HR is prob more interested in weather or not you can keep private stuff private. Which with no facebook your doing good.

Re:Shocking. (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450684)

The problem isn't what you may or may not post under a profile with your real name (or a fake name). What happens when a friend of yours decides to tag you at a political protest, or tags a non pg-rated picture with your name? Does it matter whether its really you? Or whether the "friend" who tagged it is really a friend? The article mentions "racially insensitive" material is a flag - what if you are a stand up comic on the side? It mentions "sexually explicit" - who determines what that line is?

So there are several lines you could cross to get flagged, and you don't even need to actually cross it yourself to get flagged in Social Intelligence Corp's system. Good on Franken and Blumenthal for looking into this and raising the issue.

Employer viewing public info is a privacy concern? (2)

Meshach (578918) | more than 2 years ago | (#37449570)

I am all for privacy but everything posted on Facebook that is public is, by definition, public information. If a person wants to keep something private do not post it on Facebook!

What is next, banning Googling the name of a candidate/employee?

Re:Employer viewing public info is a privacy conce (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#37449606)

If a person wants to keep something private do not post it on Facebook!

Furthermore, spy on everyone who knows your name to ensure that they don't post anything about you.

Re:Employer viewing public info is a privacy conce (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37449654)

Bingo. A couple weeks ago some script kiddie sort-of-but-not-really hacked a poorly-secured website that we run. Someone in our company was tasked with tracking down who the guy was. The script kiddie made it easy--he posted about it on facebook, under an assumed name. And without so much as a whiff of law-enforcement help, the guy in our company figured out not only who he really is, but his address, his employer, his parents' address, the church he goes to, the name and contact information of the person who hired him, etc, etc, etc.

If you don't want something to become public, don't post it online. Personal responsibility FTW!

Wasn't there a guy who said "never put in writing what can be spoken, and never speak what can be communicated with a gesture"?

Re:Employer viewing public info is a privacy conce (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37449932)

I tried snapping my fingers...but my wife just blew up!

Re:Employer viewing public info is a privacy conce (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#37449808)

I am all for privacy but everything posted on Facebook that is public is, by definition, public information. If a person wants to keep something private do not post it on Facebook!

However, making copies of that public information may violate intellectual property laws.

Re:Employer viewing public info is a privacy conce (1)

Meeni (1815694) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450166)

Distributing copies, which they might do when they disclose the report, but that could be worked around by giving only short citations of the "work".

Re:Employer viewing public info is a privacy conce (1)

Meshach (578918) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450228)

I am all for privacy but everything posted on Facebook that is public is, by definition, public information. If a person wants to keep something private do not post it on Facebook!

However, making copies of that public information may violate intellectual property laws.

That would make all browser histories / search engine caches / proxy server's illegal. What is not permitted is distributing content in a way that violates the copyright holders rights.

Re:Employer viewing public info is a privacy conce (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37450286)

I am all for privacy but everything posted on Facebook that is public is, by definition, public information. If a person wants to keep something private do not post it on Facebook!

However, making copies of that public information may violate intellectual property laws.

That would make all browser histories / search engine caches / proxy server's illegal. What is not permitted is distributing content in a way that violates the copyright holders rights.

The astute reader would see no distinction between what you said and I what I said, since I never claimed that browser histories were illegal.

Re:Employer viewing public info is a privacy conce (1)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450240)

The only value I can even see in seeking out this information is to get around the fact that they can't fire alcoholics as easily as in the past. Someone looks like they party? Well, they might be an alcoholic, let's not hire them. It's that absurd. But allow them to gather this information (no matter how public) and we're coming to this:

I won't hire you because you can't see the difference between acting on public information and actively seeking out personal information that happens to be public.
I won't hire you because you talk about Google online. We are a competitor!
I won't hire you because you quote Aldous Huxley! I think you are smarter than me!

Re:Employer viewing public info is a privacy conce (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450242)

Well, Al Franken is a comedian...

Re:Employer viewing public info is a privacy conce (2)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450432)

...but Michele Bachmann is the one making everyone laugh (then cry).

Re:Employer viewing public info is a privacy conce (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450434)

Actually, it is a privacy concern. Context is an important line between professional and personal life.

And let's turn the tables on these companies who think there is no such line. 1. Let's use company resources to do personal things. 2. Let's stalk the HR and C-level employees and print out various tid-bits of data that is discovered. A little of that goose vs gander should put things into proper perspective.

Respect needs to go two ways or it's not good respect. If your employer doesn't respect you, then what you are in is more along the lines of master-slave isn't it?

Re:Employer viewing public info is a privacy conce (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451506)

This has nothing to do with whether the information is public or private. It has everything to do with the fact that if it happens outside of a person's job, it is none of their employer's goddamn business. If you choose to be married or single, that is (or might be) public information, but it's still illegal to not hire you based upon it.

Re:Employer viewing public info is a privacy conce (1)

surmak (1238244) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451786)

I am all for privacy but everything posted on Facebook that is public is, by definition, public information. If a person wants to keep something private do not post it on Facebook!

Most of what is on Facebook is not public. There is an access control system that, by default, limits your posts to friend of friends. You can adjust the permissions of every post to be accessible to whatever set of people you desire. I realize that they will do data mining, but that information is only used internally to target ads. I have no problem with any of this.

What I do have a problem with is when Facebook violates the agreement or when someone (a potential employer, for example) requires that you friend them as a condition for (continued) employment or any other reason.

Can we have the same thing for government? (2)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#37449580)

Just asking, because it seems that ... oh wait, someone's at the doo#(*(*@&@&NO_CARRIER

Re:Can we have the same thing for government? (1)

tqk (413719) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450162)

I was just wondering what they would think if you showed up at the interview (assuming you were offered one) with the same sort of background check on the interviewer. Perhaps a few of those stories hitting the newspapers would get them to think twice about this practice.

Why are they even bothering to check credit histories of applicants? It's a recession, the guy's looking for a job to pay bills. What's his credit history got to do with employment (assuming he's not going to be handling money)?

Re:Can we have the same thing for government? (1)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450290)

Sounds like a great way to get a job. "So, Bill, I see you like cosplay. Transvestite cosplay. Interesting. So, what kind of salary are you offering?"

Re:Can we have the same thing for government? (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450352)

In the Defense world, it's done because someone with a large amount of debt or crappy credit score is a potential security risk. Good luck getting a security clearance with credit problems.

Re:Can we have the same thing for government? (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451514)

Why would a person with "crappy credit score" a potential security risk? A person with $2000 of debt on his remaining $3000 credit card, for whom some tiny credit union canceled his second credit card after some internal error, and a mortgage check was once delayed in the mail will have an awful credit score (67% debt! Default! Major delinquency!), but would any of this motivate someone to commit a serious crime?

Re:Can we have the same thing for government? (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451774)

"Just do this one little thing for me, and you got $5000. Nobody will know, and it won't hurt anyone."

Re:Can we have the same thing for government? (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450458)

You bring up a good point. Not only should the interviewer come clean but we need background checks and social media reports on employees of the company doing the screening. Maybe their values and social life doesn't match the company that hired them!

Re:Can we have the same thing for government? (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451274)

I do research on any company that I interview with. Especially in this market, it is important to understand as much about the company and their industry as possible. With LinkedIn you can even learn about the individuals who might be on your team or even be your boss. I take my employment seriously, and just as interviews will have questions for me, I will have questions for them. Mostly I focus on budgets, revenues, five year plans and things like that. If the company cannot demonstrate that they are A) in a good position and B) thinking long term, I do not have any interest in working there.

Just the other day I was approached by a recruiter looking to fill a sysadmin position that pays 115k a year. Sysadmin, 115k a year. Sounds good. Too bad they are in the digital projector business, and their many clients are movie theaters and the government. With the economy contracting, fewer people are going to movies. With the budget messes in Washington DC, there are going to be fewer and fewer large contracts for non-critical things like digital projectors. I took a pass on that position.

whatever happened to common sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37449638)

What you post on Facebook or whatever is PUBLIC. It's viewable by anyone with a web browser.

You could, you know, THINK, and not post all that crap there in the first place if you don't want people to see it. I don't even have a "social media profile" and I don't seem to have any problems communicating online with friends and family. You don't *have* to fork over all your private data to some for-profit company.

But I guess people would rather do something with trivially obvious consequences and then blame other people when those obvious things happen. Why not just exercise a little common sense and personal responsibility? Can no one think, any more?

Re:whatever happened to common sense? (2)

JordanL (886154) | more than 2 years ago | (#37449768)

There are those people, yes. And unfortunately, those people tend to talk about other people, and the things they say about other people ALSO show up.

Re:whatever happened to common sense? (1)

Erect Horsecock (655858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37449892)

You can choose to believe this if you want, but you don't have to even have a social media presence to be affected by it. I went to a bachelor party of a close friend 2 years ago and at this party there were 3 strippers hired for "entertainment". Over the evening one fella had been taking pictures of the girls and us drinking, playing pin the tail on the stripper, and other things. Fast forward a couple years and the asshole ups them to facebook and then TAGS MY REAL NAME IN THEM.
So when I went to interview for IT at a local medical care company the part time minister (yes seriously) asked if I drank regularly or "partied", I said I had in the past but not recently "Oh?". I was fuming. I knew instantly what was going on and was pissed at myself and the son of a bitch that upped them. My new rule before applying for any job is spend a couple days on a search engine searching for my own name.

YMMV

Re:whatever happened to common sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37450048)

Your anger was misplaced. It should have been directed to the asshole who thinks you are a supplicant, not an applicant. An asshole who thinks your personal habits are any of his business at all.

A big part of the problem is that they can't fire alcoholics as easily as in the past, so they are more careful about hiring them.

Re:whatever happened to common sense? (1)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450272)

Agree. I can't imagine sitting in that interview and not being pissed at the douche who said "Oh?". I don't know if the GP walked out right then, but I would have.

I'd also have a little talk with my 'friend'. :)

Re:whatever happened to common sense? (1)

Erect Horsecock (655858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450374)

After he hit me with that he shuffled my resume and paperwork together and then proceeded to give me a tour of the facilities. This was less than 10 minutes after entering his office and sitting down. I knew that I had lost the job since the only real questions were about my personal life and such (Are you married? Why not? Do you have kids? etc) before walking me down to the IT closet to show me the hardware I would never even touch. It's typical in this part of the country (Kentucky) that if you aren't married then you better go to church and find someone to marry and pump out kids otherwise you'll never get anywhere in some job places.

He was a revival minister for several local churches and I've been told he imbibes in more than a few ways like all religious hypocrites. Oh well, I'm wiping my ass of this part of the country in the spring anyway. Fuck it.

Re:whatever happened to common sense? (1)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450762)

I wonder why you were interviewed in the first place. What was the correct answer? "Oh yeah, all the time!" and then pull out a flask?

Re:whatever happened to common sense? (1)

Erect Horsecock (655858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450818)

I thought about that too and just chalked it up to late discovery of the pictures. I applied on Friday, was called on Monday, and interviewed on Wednesday. Somewhere between 3pm monday and 10am Wednesday they found the photos I guess.

Re:whatever happened to common sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37450694)

Maybe you need to pick friends who won't do stupid shit to you like that.

I know that's easier said than done, but in a way it's true: we need to start putting social pressure on people to act responsibly online, and that means NOT violating your friends' privacy without their permission. That's a downright shitty way to treat somebody, and I think if it starts costing people their friendships, maybe they'll start to learn.

Re:whatever happened to common sense? (1)

Erect Horsecock (655858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450882)

I didn't make that clear in the OP (very tired from helping someone move) but the person who took the photos and uploaded them was not my friend having the bachelor party but a friend of his I barely knew. We went to the same high school (I was a senior and he a freshman) but never hung out with each other or anything.

Re:whatever happened to common sense? (1)

The Good Reverend (84440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451166)

This is exactly why you SHOULD have a social media presence, and monitor it. If you don't have an account, your real name can be used and you can be tagged that way. If you do have an account, you can set your privacy settings so when someone tags you, no one else sees that tag.

This extends into the non-social media world too. If you have a blog or other website that you use regularly, or post with your real name on sites like this, a Google search for your name will turn them up. If you're a slashdot-style Luddite and keep every record of your existence hidden, then any asshole can write your name on a web page and suddenly that's all you're known for. It's much better to own your name and control what your employer sees than let someone else do it for you.

Common sense is lagging, not lacking. (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450040)

Its not yet "common sense" to assume that employers are going to rummage through your personal life, even if they can.

After all, that is just a damned creepy thing for an employer to do to its employees, even if it is feasible and legal.

No, it's not creepy (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450334)

After all, that is just a damned creepy thing for an employer to do to its employees, even if it is feasible and legal.

I hire people to exercise fiduciary responsibility over large sums of money. I want to make very certain they don't have substance abuse, gambling, or other problems that could lead to temptations. Since I already do DOJ background and credit checks, there's nothing creepy about a Google/social media check. I also check the references you list and call the previous employers from whom you do not list a reference. Anything less is just sloppy hiring practice.

Also misguided. (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450786)

Just read around this thread and you will see how trivial it is for someone with actual malign intent to circumvent your social media check. The only people you snare are people who can't or don't want to hide anything. So you may "catch" the gambler who has done nothing wrong (gambling is not necessarily illegal) but might rip you off and be easily caught, but miss the embezzler who intends to rip you off and has a plan to get away with it.

It's creepy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37451178)

I'm worth a considerable amount. I'm also single. Beyond my personal health and safety I have a financial interest in making sure the women I date aren't out to screw me (well, in one sense). Do I stalk them before dating them? Fuck no, because I'm not a creep. Seriously, what if I said, "I already do a DOJ background check and credit check on them. So it's not creepy that I also stalk them on Facebook." I wouldn't want to practice sloppy dating practice! Or maybe I would. Too many double entendres when talking about dating...

What can you possibly learn from social networking that you can't learn from a DOJ background check, interview, and references? Nothing that is your business or will affect your business.

Sorry, but I just don't buy that you can tell someone has a substance abuse problem by a couple facebook posts. And even if you can, if their record is clean and their work record is exemplary, why does it even matter?

It's not about avoiding "sloppy hiring practice" it's about you (or whoever made this policy) having a personal problem with activity Y or just being a snoop.

Re:No, it's not creepy (1)

number11 (129686) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451282)

I hire people to exercise fiduciary responsibility over large sums of money. I want to make very certain they don't have substance abuse, gambling, or other problems that could lead to temptations. Since I already do DOJ background and credit checks, there's nothing creepy about a Google/social media check. I also check the references you list and call the previous employers from whom you do not list a reference. Anything less is just sloppy hiring practice.

And since anyone coming to work for you is placing their trust in your company's financial stability and your own record of paying employees for time worked, it is only reasonable for them to do the same searches on you and the company principals and top executives. Right?

Re:whatever happened to common sense? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450474)

This isn't about what's available. It's about what you should and shouldn't be looking at. The race of a person is ALSO publicly available and yet there are laws against discriminating on that basis. In my view, what a person does in his/her free time is his/her personal business and discriminating on that basis should be equally actionable.

Let's talk about what this is really about -- unfair presumption, prejudice and discrimination. It's not about "just looking at what's out there" that is the problem -- it's how it's used to harm people and by whom.

Re:whatever happened to common sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37450836)

Let's talk about what this is really about -- unfair presumption, prejudice and discrimination.

Exactly so.

The "need" for SN checks to weed out the variously defined bad apples is FUD perpetuated by power-hungry HR types and others eager to instill fear among job seekers and control people's behavior in general.

Why pick on Social Intelligence Corp? (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37449764)

Why pick on Social Intelligence Corp? Let the feds clean their own house first and get rid of the Patriot Act. Then they can go after the small-time privacy infringers.

Re:Why pick on Social Intelligence Corp? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37450332)

Why pick on Social Intelligence Corp?

Because it can be used against Congresspeople, their staffers, and their lobbyists. SIC is just democratizing what the NSA/CIA/FBI have been doing for the past 10+ years, and that just cannot be tolerated.

Re:Why pick on Social Intelligence Corp? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451642)

We don't get to vote for Social Intelligence Corp's executive officers. We do get to vote for the various politicians that voted for the Patriot Act, on top of that those politicians appointed most of the judges that are responsible for hearing suits and appeals relevant to it. I'm not aware of any similar power with SIC.

You'll notice that it's only a couple Senators that are looking into it, far fewer than the 51 Senators needed to pass a repeal or the 60 that are needed with the GOP's inevitable filibuster.

Stop posting deeply sensitive material online (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#37449864)

It's as simple as showing some self control. Those pics from the party? Text them to your friends, don't post them online. Those naked pics? Don't text or post them online. It's that easy, exceptttt human nature factors in and people will be people, and NOT CARE that some creepy internet firm is harvesting this information.

Then again seriously, what kind of employer cares, I understand not wanting to hire a robber at a bank, or on a very long string, somebody w/ defaulted credit, but people's personal lives should not be a candidate as they have nothing to do w/ work performance, some people even react differently to tragedy in terms of their work, it's just not accurately measurable.

On that note, I'll be keeping my fb private and not adding management to my friends group!!

Re:Stop posting deeply sensitive material online (2)

Bloopie (991306) | more than 2 years ago | (#37449996)

Those pics from the party? Text them to your friends, don't post them online.

No matter. Your friends, who have no conception of any need for privacy and would look at you blankly if you even brought up the matter, took their own photos at the party. And you were in them. And they will post them for all the world to see, without it ever crossing their mind that that could possibly be a bad thing.

Re:Stop posting deeply sensitive material online (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450196)

If being a picture of you at a party is a bad thing at you work, please change of workplace;
now if the said picture, was showing you snorting cocaine off a naked prostitute back, please stop doing that, it is degrading to women and it's a waste of good cocaine !

Re:Stop posting deeply sensitive material online (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450230)

Facebook recently implemented something to address that, I believe you can untag yourself now from a friend's photos. Doesn't stop the friend from posting the crap, but it stops the troll from finding it :)

http://www.facebook.com/blog.php?post=467145887130 [facebook.com]

Re:Stop posting deeply sensitive material online (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450546)

Once its tagged, its been archived.

You face has been scanned and entered in to a database that will be used for a new feature.. auto tagging.

Maybe not yet, but I think its the logical outcome.
So while the bots crawl facebook and tag every picture, you get to manually crawl facebook to untag them.

Re:Stop posting deeply sensitive material online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37450250)

But then you have people like my brother and myself who collects guns (mini 14, Tommy guns, real nice long range rifles, pistols, ARs, etc) because we grew up hunting and shooting. All are kept locked up in safes so no one can access them without our knowledge, practice and teach safety first to anyone we take out with us, reload our own ammo etc.

He has a bunch of pictures from gun ranges online, or posting with some of his collection. An employer may not hire him based on those pictures thinking he's a nut, even though that's completely incorrect. Plus its fully legal to have the guns he has... so they couldn't claim a legal grounds for not hiring him either.

So why shouldn't he be able to take and post the pictures of his collection, or shooting skills, etc without having to fear something like not being hired? Its not different than someone who collected cars and posts their photos of them with their collection...

Don't worry, Principal Skinner has your back... (2)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450174)

"A certain ... agitator. For privacy's sake, let's call her 'Lisa S.' No, that's too obvious, let's say, 'L. Simpson.'"

Yeah right... and then they hire some 'lobbyists'. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37450214)

And then they hire some lobbyists to go to DC and line a few CONgressional pockets with "campaign donations", and any objections will get watered down to the point that the bill protects their right to do it.

Sen Franken (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37450216)

I find it difficult to take him seriously.

Can you say "Copyright Infringement"? (4, Insightful)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450320)

Facebook posts are copyrighted by the poster, the same as any newspaper article or photograph is, and if they use those copyrighted works in their reports, they are infringing - and good luck trying to make a fair use exemption fly if sued over it.

Re:Can you say "Copyright Infringement"? (1)

Kirijini (214824) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450946)

That's an excellent point, and I'd mod up if I had points.

Facebook can sublicense your info to a third party ("you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook"), but that sub sublicense necessarily terminates when facebook's does - when/if you remove the info ("This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account..."), though there may be a loophole if you've "shared" the info with others ("...unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it"). What does "shared with others" mean? I dunno, but I imagine it means posting on a friends wall, or something of that sort.

Re:Can you say "Copyright Infringement"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37451844)

Yeah, right! From Facebook's TOS...

"You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof."

Why doesn't copyright extend to Social Media? (3, Insightful)

ad454 (325846) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450324)

If corporations can get indefinite copyright protection for everything under the sun, why can't individuals get the same protections?

A user should be able to copyright their social profile postings, browsing history, purchasing habits, etc., and sue any corporation that uses it without authorization. Just because something is on the Internet does not mean that the rights holder gives up their copyright.

If a company like Sony music puts a song on the Internet for others to download, perhaps as a promotion, then a movie studio would not automatically have permission to use that song in a commercial film without written permission. So why can't I sue these online check firms for using my personal data without my written authorization?

Re:Why doesn't copyright extend to Social Media? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37450426)

Because your personal data is a bunch of facts, not an expressive work. Facts are not copyrightable.

Re:Why doesn't copyright extend to Social Media? (2)

digital photo (635872) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450600)

the problem is that it isn't facts that the company is limiting its storing to, but postings by people on web and other social media sites.

There is also the problem of:
- dataset poisoning
- information taken out of context
- guilt through association
- account hacking

There also appears to be no way for someone to clarify or otherwise refute incorrect data.

They are opening themselves up to defamation lawsuits.

Re:Why doesn't copyright extend to Social Media? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37450912)

In the European Union you can do that with a good chance of success. In the United States you generally can't as it has a "different approach" to these issues. Which largely entails giving corporations whatever they want, and not much else.

Re:Why doesn't copyright extend to Social Media? (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450968)

Write everything about yourself in a book format. Hmmmm.... that's an Autobiography. Copyright the book. Ta-daa, your life story is now copyrighted.

idiots (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37450414)

Al Franken is an idiot.

Re:idiots (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37451766)

But compared to the Republicans he looks like a genius. Plus, he's honest, unlike any of them.

People worry about odd things (2)

The Good Reverend (84440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450530)

In the end, a company like this can only get a hold of web accessible information - i.e., information you (or someone else) puts out there.

But there are dozens of major companies out there that compile profiles on individuals based on public records, credit scores, social networking, police records, and private marketing data - you've got much more to "worry" about (if you're prone to such worrying) from them than you are from someone who's just looking at what you post publicly on Facebook.

Anyone can get an account with Lexis Nexis, among others, who compile data like this into handy little reports. The vast majority of it is public record, but anyone paranoid about something like Facebook would be scared shitless about all the information available in one place from companies like this.

Re:People worry about odd things (2)

dave562 (969951) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451346)

This is a good point. Lexis Nexis is no joke. I did not realize quite how evil they were until I was working for a non-profit, and the Lexis Nexis people were offering to profile the donors to the non-profit. They were going to provide metrics on their "capacity to give" based on a whole slew of semi-public financial information like real estate holdings, trusts, etc.

Re:People worry about odd things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37451428)

That's true. For our lead generation system (purchased through another vendor) I can tell you a lot about yourself...home ownership, income level, children, areas you've ordered products online from, general investment history, who your neighbors are, industry you work in, among a TON of other info. We only use a small portion of this data in a general sense to sort prospects that are likely to be interested. But we live in a computerized world and info about all of us is out there whether or not a person tries to keep it private. I echo everyone else in saying....don't be stupid on fb and understand and make use of a site's or company's privacy policy and then decide to be apart of that site or not. I think the issue is a company compiling all of that info about us in one convenient little report. Used for ethical purposes is one thing but anyone can subscribe to different companies and access this info for who knows what reasons.

Lobbying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37450574)

Are they advertising for donations from Google and Facebook?

I second the "idiots" volley (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450596)

Stuff you post on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet is generally public. You know it is public, and you know you have no right to privacy for things you post in public.

If you don't want to get fired for the stupid crap you do, don't paste it permanently in public for everyone to see.

Re:I second the "idiots" volley (1)

nausicaa (461792) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451564)

Well, the thing is, if it's not illegal, it shouldn't matter. If they use your opinion/religion/political views/favorite sports team/hobbies/whatever for something like this.. I honestly don't know what I'd do if they do it to me.. Of course, there are jobs where a bad credit rating, criminal record of a certain kind, etc, is a liability, but there are limits to what is relevant.

My view is.. boycott these kinds of employers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37450604)

If an employer doesn't want to employ me based off some social media info, than that employer's business practices are rather sketchy. The only thing that he should worry about is if the person he is hiring is able to work with his team and is qualified to do the job. What I may or may not post on some forum has nothing to do with him at all.

Therefore, boycott these kinds of employers. They will have no employees and fail miserably.

So they're claiming its illegal... (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451698)

To mine publicly available information that cannot be considered "private" due to it being published? And present that information in a bundle to a paying customer based on search criteria....

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