Facebook Rant: The social network and its impact in the workplace

How Work is Affected by Facebook

I would like to take a moment to share an informal rant about the social network Facebook. Recently I have read many articles about how people have been fired or expelled/suspended from school because of things that they posted on their Facebook page. The more articles I read the more my jaw dropped in appropriate WTF fashion. My first reaction was to be completely appalled. How can a professional or student be fired and reprimanded based on something that was done during personal time and has nothing to do with work or school? Has our country really fallen so low that freedom of speech and expression has been completely thrown out the window? After I calmed down a bit I realized that there are actually two sides to this problem. Yes, it is wrong for employers to use personal information to judge a person on their work ethic and abilities and what a student does during non-school hours and off campus is absolutely none of their business. However, I can’t help but play devils advocate and think that if people would just set their privacy filters correctly then this issue wouldn’t have come up in the first place.

Facebook is a tool to connect people that might not have the opportunity to talk all the time or keep people informed of events and share common likes. (I would say likes and dislikes, however since Facebook can’t seem to create a “dislike” button it isn’t really relevant) Each user is given complete freedom on how they want their page to be utilized by the outside world. Everyone has the option to make their page completely private where pictures and posts are only visible to the people you allow it to be visible to. I don’t understand why people feel the need to make everyone their friend and give friends of friends free access to their page. What person is dumb enough to accept a friend request from a boss or co-worker and then proceed to bash or talk negatively about their job? Seriously! Also I don’t understand peoples desire to post pictures of their drunken exploits. If it is something you are too embarrassed to show to your grandmother then it probably shouldn’t be posted to the internet where the whole world can see it.

While the user should take responsibility for their actions I still don’t believe that having a personal life is grounds for termination. It is an infringement on a persons privacy for employers to demand applicants social network passwords and access to their page. Apparently there are now teams of people who have developed a way to score an applicant based on their habits on Facebook. Anyone who has less than 500 friends is apparently not personable enough for certain jobs. I am not a psychologist am having a very difficult time understanding why my not wanting to be friends with completely random people that I barely know has any indication of my ability to be outgoing and communicate efficiently.

I have a feeling there are going to be more articles about Facebook firings and the resulting lawsuits. It is unfortunate that it has come to this.

Please accept this as an informal rant on issues that have been bothering me. I welcome discussion and other opinions but please keep any comments mature and respectful. Thank you for reading!

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Comments 15 comments

Chris Hugh 4 years ago

I completely agree. And 500 friends on Facebook as a minimum is crazy. I don't even know 500 people, who does? Good editorial.

Michelle Taylor profile image

Michelle Taylor 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

Chris, The facebook situation is completely out of control. I couldn't imagine having 500 "friends" on facebook. Thank you for reading :-)

Angela Brummer profile image

Angela Brummer 4 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

Great article! Facebook has really affected the work place! I will share this on Facebook :), twitter, google + and will hub following!

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

I strongly agree with your viewpoints! Recently I was also made aware of a few companies that are asking possible candidates for new positions for their log in details for Facebook! Can you believe that?! I personally would not want to work for a company that invades your private space like that. And a contract hasn't even been signed yet, imagine what they do to their employees that are working there! Good info here, thanks for sharing! Voted up!

beaddve 4 years ago

If employers really want to check their employees qualification, they should go to linkedin and not Facebook. If employers demand the passwords for accessing their employees profile, that action, to me, can filed a lawsuit because it already cross the line of privacy.

WhydThatHappen 4 years ago

I agree that employers shouldn't snoop... unless the job entails a certain uprightness AND it's reasonably easy to find the employee AND realize that the employee works for the company. A middle-school teacher shouldn't have risque party pics all over the place if they list their work as All-American Junior High or W/E, or if their name is listed in a way their students could find it just by knowing a given name- there are all sorts of ways to make it difficult for people to find you, there should be an element of discretion. Also, teachers already know that there is a certain level of conduct they must hold in the presence of students outside of the classroom, facebook expounds life on a much broader basis and teachers should recognize that. It just makes school-teaching jobs seem even more underpaid than they already are. Also, this of course applies to other professions as well, but a sales person? they should be able to expect privacy. A pilot? They should expect a right to privacy. It all depends on the effect on the job. The pilot get's privacy as long as his posts don't concern travelers. A salesman get's privacy as long as he doesn't effect sales egregiously with facebook. I think it's more complicated than ok, or not ok, and that is why lawsuits are awesome- they provide an opportunity to explore all the different circumstances and help to nail down a standard of right and wrong- laws follow lawsuits, not the other way around

lovedoctor926 4 years ago

I strongly believe that employers should not violate an employees freedom of speech and expression rights on social networking sites. I agree with your views on this matter. As you mentioned, facebook already protects your personal information from your would-be employers and then again, your employers don't need to know whether you are on facebook or not. You have every right to say no and if the supervisor can't respect your decision, then perhaps you are not the best candidate for the position. The only thing that an employer should be concerned is that you show up to work regularly and on time. As an employee, it is your responsibility to abide by the company's rules and regulations, which means that you should not be logged on to facebook or any social networking sites during office hours.

Michelle Taylor profile image

Michelle Taylor 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

@lovedoctor I totally agree that an employee should respect the job they work at and not sign in on a company computer during company time. What's completely strange is that my boss has specifically asked me to log in to facebook so I could try and find information about someone. Luckily he was understanding when I said I would prefer to keep my work and facebook separate and reminded him that his son (who also works in the office) has a FB account :-)

Michelle Taylor profile image

Michelle Taylor 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

@WhydThatHappen I agree that in certain jobs how you conduct yourself outside of work can have an impact on your job. The example of a teacher is a good one as it's important to maintain a certain level of authority with your students. Perhaps a teacher could supply their handle to the institution where they work so it can be checked periodically that their privacy filters are set correctly? This way their privacy isn't violated and freedom of speech remains in tact but the school is able to satisfy themselves on the teachers continued professional conduct. I love your comment "laws follow lawsuits", that is soo true!

Michelle Taylor profile image

Michelle Taylor 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

@beaddve Hmm, I wonder if an applicant can file a complaint about not getting a position due solely because they didn't supply their social network information... I must do more research!

@MelChi This situation brings a whole new level to the phrase, "big brother is watching". I know some companies keep records of all the webpages and email correspondence an employee utilizes during work hours, but to bring that same level of monitoring to non-work hours is just crossing the line.

@Angela You are completely awesome thank you soo much for sharing this!

And thank you everyone for leaving comments and sharing :-)

beaddve 4 years ago

Michelle Taylor profile image

Michelle Taylor 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

Thank you beaddve! It's good to know that facebook is as outraged as the rest of us and are trying to do something about it. Companies need to be put in their place.

Wesley Meacham profile image

Wesley Meacham 4 years ago from Wuhan, China

Michelle this is great. I really can't see someone getting fired for something they said on FB unless they were giving away trade secretes or something that would get them fired in any other medium. However I could easily see people getting fired for spending a lot of time on FB at work. Essentially FB is can be a huge time waster for many employees. I have a few personal relations who work in IT. Some of the more interesting things they tell me about their jobs is how people complain after the block access to certain websites, like FB and soap opera related sites. They block these sites when they notice that several hours in a day are being spent on them.

Voted up, funny, interesting and shared.

Giselle Maine 4 years ago

I think privacy is really important and that no-one should demand someone else's login details for anything (facebook or anything else). However, people should realize that putting something on Facebook is like yelling it out to the world - you have to be careful what you say. If someone is REALLY privacy-conscious they would be smart to either a) not join Facebook at all, or b) delete their Facebook account if they have one, or c) put REALLY stringent privacy settings on their facebook account. And of course watch what they say and do there. If it's publicly available, people can and will look at it. Anything you don't want people to see, write it in a diary at home!

While it is unreasonable (and probably illegal) for an employer to ask for login details, it is not unexpected for an employer to do a Google (or Facebook) search for the candidate. I wouldn't put anything on the internet in general that I would be hesitant for others to see - whether this is now or 10 years down the track. So instead of yelling from a rooftop I guess putting stuff on Facebook (or elsewhere on the Internet) is longer-lasting, more like painting it on a big sign.

Michelle Taylor profile image

Michelle Taylor 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

@Giselle, I completely agree that people should be more careful about what they post to the internet, facebook or anywhere else. Employers just need to realize they are out of line to ask for passwords for a persons private account.

@Wesley, There are unfortunately a lot of articles telling stories about people that got fired because of something they posted or said on facebook. Although why anyone would friend their boss is a mystery to me. I included a couple of links to the stories in my hub if you want to check them out.

Thanks for reading and commenting :-)

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