Platforms on Which We Interact With Each Other

According to lifewire.com, “social media are web-based communication tools that enable people to interact with each other by both sharing and consuming information”. In 1997 “the first social media site … called Six Degrees” was created. Its main purpose was keeping in touch with others by adding them to a friend list and sending messages. From there on platforms like MySpace, Twitter and Instagram started gaining popularity by offering users to share not only messages, but also other media (i.e. photos, videos, GIFs).

A number of people believe that social media creates a more or less accurate depiction of parts in our lives that we might not share in simple conversations or in a resume.

“In 2017, 71 percent of internet users were social network users and these figures are expected to grow” because managing a social media account is an easy way for us to introduce ourselves to others with just a couple of scrolls through Facebook. Since the notorious whistleblower Snowden revealed classified files on global programs for mass surveillance, the topic of online privacy has become important.

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In my opinion, online privacy includes protection of passwords, private messages and any information that one hasn’t explicitly posted online on a website or in an application. With the help of social media, employers could dig deeper past the resume into their future or current employees’ lives.

The issue arises because there is a debate on whether employers should be allowed to look at social media posts or other digital traces when deciding about hiring a person, and if they are, what kind of limits should exist to prevent invasion of privacy or bias towards an employee.

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This issue is double-sided because there are convincing claims on both sides of the argument. On one hand, employers could avoid inappropriate or illegal behavior of their employees and even lawsuits with the ability to check on their workers outside of the office. On the other hand, during the hiring process there could be discrimination against applicants and information could be taken out of context while hurting the employee. This issue affects college students applying for internships and jobs because they are scared of losing a chance of getting a stable future just based on a post online.

It also creates tension between employers as well as the employees who have a chance of losing their job due to the surveillance. Several laws exist to protect online information about employees, but not all companies have a specific guideline as to how search, which creates confusion within companies. In this paper I will take a close look at both sides of the argument and conclude on how much the part of our life that we share on social media should affect a job application or a current job. (maybe better ending here) “20% of employers say they expect candidates to have an online presence” because we live in a world of online information. Online presence nowadays is considered the norm of communication; therefore, an absence of a social network account would look more suspicious.

For example, creating a profile on LinkedIn wouldn’t hurt an application, but only show professionalism and add to the information about the candidate in the resume. To avoid legal trouble in the future, companies “keep tabs on their employees online to ensure that their employees refrain from inappropriate or illegal behavior” and “more serious infractions are unlikely to be shared on social media and therefore never appear on the radar of the company anyway” . Employees don’t have to worry about a complete breach of privacy because “more than 20 states have passed laws making it illegal for employers to ask applicants to hand over their usernames and passwords to their private social media accounts” .

Only public posts that are not restricted can be seen by the company, and there is no risk of the employers reading private messages. The majority of posts that are public typically don’t contain anything that would raise concern because “more serious infractions are unlikely to be shared on social media” . Additionally, “if an employer hires a third party to investigate your social media footprint, needs to get an applicant’s written consent” . If the company would want to dig deeper into an employee’s online activities, they are only allowed to do that with an agreement, so there is no worry about a secret search behind an employee’s back.

Some company have a practice of giving out company’s owned technology to use computer monitoring but “can only be done if the computer system belongs to the company itself, this does not qualify for personal electronics” . That means the company can monitor for what an employee is using the computer system for (which email are sent, which websites the employee visits). Having a separate computer or phone for work can help employees maintain a professional work ethic by separating the technology that they use at work and for private life. This practice of monitoring can also help employees become more productive due to the obvious divide in technology for different reasons (formulate this better).

Argument against

Even though there are state rules that restrict employers from taking login account information from employees, “25% of employers have fired employees because of ‘inappropriate’ emails, yet many organizations fail to define what ‘inappropriate’ means” . Those cases happen because companies don’t always make a clear distinction in terms of data that employees can share or use online, leaving enough grey areas to fire a worker. “According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and about 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees” , which is a pretty large percent knowing the problem of existing grey areas in company’s rules regarding use of social media.

“This is also the problem of bias. Americans today are arguably more socially and politically conscious… use social media to convey their thoughts…” which could lead to bias during the screening process for the job. People tweet their thoughts and feelings on topics like politics and current events and “employers may be supportive”, but “there is a real danger of people being penalized for their personal views on things like politics, race, or religion”. Human error plays a vital part during the social media review process because if the monitoring person doesn’t agree with some of the views that the applicant has on politics, for example, even if the company itself is neutral, the subjective feelings of the person tasked with monitoring employees’ social media could easily lead to discrimination”. Additionally, “pictures and comments on a private page that are taken out of context” which leads to a risk of losing a position at work because of the human error during review of data on social media.

Final conclusion

There are strong arguments for both sides of the issue of employers monitoring employees’ social media accounts, but the evidence leans towards giving employers the opportunity to do so, even though we don’t have a perfect procedure to do that so far. Although there are instances of employees getting fired over ‘inappropriate’ emails without a clear cause or content on their social media, there are still state rules that prevent the basics of online privacy from being violated. For example, off-duty conduct laws “prohibit employers from taking negative action against employees based on their legal conduct while off-duty”. Meaning, that an employee can post about their legal product consumption outside of the office hours without an employer using that information for firing.

Moreover, not only companies have rules about inappropriate content; most social media websites have community guidelines to prevent discrimination and explicit content from being posted. Thus, the employee is already not supposed to share anything offensive or illegal, and their opinion on topics that are covered by the discrimination laws should not influence their status at a company. There are still measures that need to be discussed about the issue of employers monitoring their employees through social media. There need to be clearer guidelines within companies that will help employees feel more secure about sharing online content, a better monitoring system before the interviews are conducted, such that there would not be human error during the hiring process.

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Platforms on Which We Interact With Each Other. (2022, Jan 04). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/platforms-on-which-we-interact-with-each-other-essay

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