Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Dark Side of Facebook

After reading the chapter ‘Facebook Nation’ by Lori Andrews, I was left feeling vulnerable and insecure. In the piece, Andrews exploits the negative aspects of different social networking sites, yet mainly focuses on Facebook and the ramifications that come with being an active user. Andrews writes, “Unlike Vegas, what happens in Facebook doesn’t stay in Facebook” (430). She is referring to the fact that an individual’s private information can easily be made into public domain without their consent. Now, hiring companies and college admissions boards can gain complete access to applicants’ personal information before making any decisions. So essentially an individual is being judged for material submitted on personal profiles. Is it ethically appropriate to be evaluated for information that was not presented in an interview or application?

Andrews also introduces the background-checking service called Social Intelligence Corp., which accumulates files from Facebook and “keeps each person’s files for seven years” (431). This means that if someone publishes “college-like” photos on Facebook, future employers can gain access to them and not hire him or her because of them. After reading this, a person’s automatic solution might be to delete the photos or posts that are deemed inappropriate, but this devious company has already saved that information and will have it archived for seven years. When Facebook was first created, people were drawn to the site because it offered them a space to express and evolve with family and friends. But now, social networks, like Facebook, limit both opportunity and behaviors for individuals.

I also found a comic about Facebook that I wanted to share:


  1. I think what everyone is discovering is that we cannot treat our online interactions as somehow free, or private, or "just for fun" simply because we think it should be that way. Ultimately, these seemingly free services still serve a bottom-line: quarterly earnings, stockholder interests, and corporate advertising. If you really want your information to be private, be careful about what you share, though it's almost impossible to avoid data miners and aggregators like Spokeo. Try searching for yourself!

  2. I am not convinced that employers are looking at Facebook as an evaluation of a prospective employee. I feel that an employer understands that all those "college-like" (ie drunk) pictures a person is tagged in are only in a given context and that it is in no way indicative of their actual qualifications for any position. I believe employers understand that these are, as you say, "personal profiles" because they too have Facebook. It's not that I think employers don't look at Facebook, they do, but out of curiosity. However, a decision on hiring someone won't be determined by Facebook, especially when all they see is a presentation of our happiest, most exciting, and favorable image. I know that if I was hiring someone, I really could care less what their Facebook says about them because Facebook doesn't tell me much about a person's accomplishments or skills. And even if one chronicled their life successfully on Facebook, it would still be too much work to filter out the relevant details. So I think the paranoia of private information in the public domain is largely overblown because 1)the only private information in the public domain is what one chooses to put there, but mostly because 2)people don't really care what I did last Friday night.

  3. In some respect I agree with Chris. I feel that there is always information out there. Someone could google search a potential employee and things will pop up that you had no idea existed. In this day and age I think that it is more useful to seek out the connections you may have and working on your own skills and work ethic versus worrying about what you may post on your facebook. As long as you are careful what is put on there and what you may be doing those late Friday nights, you should be fine. Also, I have never heard of Spokeo before this reading! It amazes me what people come up with these days.

  4. This makes me think of the fine line we dance on as we post and share things on Facebook. While I post things I find relevant, entertaining, endearing, or meaningful, I find myself pausing before I push the "Post" button. Why? I don't feel comfortable revealing too many things on the Internet, and yet it's frightening to think that for those who know how to navigate it well, they can discover so many things about you. And so I won't post things that are too personal, but things I wouldn't mind as much if they somehow circulated the Internet. After all, isn't that what you agree to when you "post" something? To give more information to the world, and inevitably to the people who want to know you most - advertisers? Is it possible for someone to know someone really well through Facebook, when it's wiser to think before you press? What image do we end up giving of ourselves, and does it depend on whether we are aware of the power of what spreads content on the Internet?