By Eliza Molk
Arizona Daily Wildcat, U. Arizona
(UWire)—Those considering posting photos from a wild Vegas vacation may want to reconsider, now that an employment screening company will be archiving all Facebook information left public for its use.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is allowing Social Intelligence Corp. to keep files of Facebook users' posts as part of a background-checking service for screening job applicants. The corporation, a screening company that helps employers find viable employees by gathering their public information from the Internet, is archiving this information to provide a verifiable chain-of-custody in case it is ever needed for legal reasons.
If you post something on the Internet in a public space, you lose your right to privacy. Susan Ferrell, an Associated Students of the U. Arizona legal services adviser and adjunct assistant law professor at the UA, said that if an individual posts something on the Internet in a public space accessible to anyone, they lose their right to privacy. While the company could not use a Facebook user's image to sell something without their consent, she explained, it can archive information a user shares publicly.
"If you make something public, you have legally lost control of it," Ferrell said.
A spokesperson for Social Intelligence said that the archived data is purely for compliance reasons and will never be used for new screens. The data collected is employer-defined criteria legally allowable in the hiring process, such as racist remarks, sexually explicit photos or evidence of drug use.
While a UA student applying for jobs may want to edit inappropriate activity displayed on their Facebook, they may also want to utilize social media in order to market their strengths and accomplishments, according to Eileen McGarry, the director of Career Services.
McGarry explained that employers could be more likely to hire an individual if they show good communication skills and creativity on their social media websites, and mediums like Facebook should be looked at as another venue to self-promote.
"It (Facebook) should complement your resume, it shouldn't create a negative image," she said. "Look at it through an employer's eyes, or through the eyes of a professional group that you would want to be a part of."
Adjust your Facebook privacy settings.
Take charge of your online reputation. Victoria Tsze, a UA psychology student who graduated in the spring, said that she has changed her Facebook privacy setting since graduating and landing a job at D&G Concepts, a marketing firm for Fortune 500 companies.
She does not allow non-Facebook friends to see any photos on her profile and does not post about alcohol or partying.
"I don't want to make a bad impression with my future employers. You never know what they may think about you," she said.
Tsze added that because she was hired at a marketing firm, she must appear personable on the Internet by showing that she socializes and connects with a large number of friends.
"I think Facebook can make both a very good and very bad impression," she said. "If you seem sociable with a good personality, employers see it as a bonus. If you post negatively and seem to party every day, it will look bad upon you."