Facebook, privacy and employers: The battle is real
Part 1 of 2
By Michael Melville
The other day on a Facebook post I got into an interesting but largely one-sided discussion about social media and the workplace. This discussion came from a news story about a woman who was fired from a job at a daycare before she even started her job. She was fired because she posted something on her personal Facebook page. Basically, she posted that she hates being around a lot of kids.
Opinions a plenty
Now, before I get into what I really want to talk about here is my opinion on this specific issue. It’s not like she was talking about specific kids. It’s not like she was saying she wanted to hurt the kids. I don’t see anything wrong with what she said and here is why. You can be perfectly qualified and capable of doing your job and doing your job very well without liking the customers or clients you serve. The only thing that should matter with this woman is whether she could do the job and judging by the fact she was HIRED that kind of means the daycare thought she could do it. Plenty of professionals do not really like their customers or clients but they pretend too or do their jobs well enough where it doesn’t matter. If my kid was in this daycare with this women I could care less if she liked my child. What matters to me is that she did her job and performed the necessary requirements of the job so my son had a good time at daycare. Her liking my son on a personal level doesn’t matter to me. Lots of people feel weird around large groups of people whether it’s kids or adults I do.
Most servers in restaurants don’t really like the customers but they put that aside every damn day and do their job. A friend of mine is a defense attorney in Idaho and he complains all time about his clients and how much he can’t stand them but he puts that aside and defends them. “I don’t have to like them to defend them,cant” he says. I have a few friends who are teachers and they don’t really like most of their students but they like teaching (that confuses me also) but they manage to get up every day and do their job. Isn’t that all that really matters?
Her not wanting to be around a bunch of kids is understandable but it doesn’t mean she would not have done a good job working at that daycare. Now, many might ask her, “IF you don’t like kids why did you apply at a daycare”. It’s called money, it’s called a job and providing for your own child. Want to know a secret? I can’t stand kids for the most part either, I never could and can’t. But I love the hell out of my 9-month-old son and I am a damn good dad. I don’t really have to like any kids or want to be around anyone else’s kids but I could do a job where it was required that I was around them! There are no requirements that I have to like them. You don’t have to like kids to be a teacher you just have to be a good teacher. Let’s be honest this was a Daycare, not a real school. She posted her thoughts on Facebook which leads to bigger issues.
Social Media Lies
Lately, in the news, there has been a fair amount of talk about whether an employer and especially a potential employer should have access to a person’s Facebook account and other social media. This, of course largely all depends on a person’s privacy settings. I don’t think employers have that right at all. Many employers will try emphasis on TRY to get around that when someone’s Facebook, Twitter or whatever is private. On the Facebook post I talked about at the beginning of this article this is what one person said:
“There are programs that allow people to see private accounts, my manager told me this. lol so even though mines private I still watch what I post”
And here was another one from that same thread:
“They are able to view your account if you are working for that employer. Reason they are allowed is due to the fact you may be saying something bad or harmful to the company and they don’t need or want that”
These are two common misconceptions and myths that I have seen several times over the last few years. When it comes to the first comment this women’s “manager” is straight up lying to her. It’s a trick many managers use in order to connive a person into letting them allow their boss to be their “friend” on Facebook. The employee figures since they are going to see it anyways (once told the lie) why not just let them in or why not give them the password since they will see anyways. Currently, there are no programs that allow a company or a person to get past Facebook privacy settings at least legally. For this article, I talked to someone directly at Facebook and they told me in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t allowed and doesn’t happen. Who really knows what the government can do.
NOTE: If you give your password to someone, say a potential employer you could potentially have your account shut down by Facebook since this breaks their TOS (Terms of Service).
Even if those programs did exist its illegal and the employer is leaving their company wide open for a lawsuit. To what end? Seeing some pictures of you drinking on spring break 8 years ago? Does that really matter?
The second comment is just as annoying and just as wrong. Your employer or potential one has no right to invade your private life. They can check your Facebook until they are blue in the face but if your account is private and you pay attention to how you post NOT what you post then there is nothing they can do because they can’t see it. All those half naked selfies are okay if you don’t share them under the public setting. YES if the employer or potential employer finds out you said something bad about the company then they might be able to fire you or not hire you. However, it’s been argued in court and WON that these are the person’s opinions and they cannot be terminated for having an opinion.
An example of this would be if you use a site like Travel Advisor and posted a review about…let’s say a hotel. Let’s say it was a crappy stay but you applied for a job at that company sometime after. That’s your opinion and they can’t do squat but of course, they will cry about it. Revealing sensitive company information? In that case yes you can get in trouble. Saying bad things about the company AFTER you get hired yes you might get canned for that. They can ask you for your password and you can say no and there is nothing they can do about it. Currently, there are several states trying to make this illegal so employers or potential employers cannot invade someone’s privacy and cannot even ask for access.
I haven’t been asked for my Facebook password yet but I might someday. I will graciously say no and accept whatever happens. Unless…unless they are pricks about it and then I will be a prick back and cause a scene. Someone out there might say something really stupid like, “Well just don’t post things you don’t want people to see.” Which sounds really simple. It’s about a simple as the person asking the question. People’s interests are varied and wide. Some people find things acceptable and interesting while some don’t. You can’t always know this ahead of time and people really do get offended at the dumbest s$&t these days. The people who don’t want to see it don’t have too. They can unfriend or unfollow you or adjust their newsfeed settings so they don’t see it. YES you can do that
If I miss out on a job it’s fine. Why? Because I have no interest working for a company that is okay with invading me and my family’s privacy unless I say it’s okay. Think back on that news story from earlier here. Nothing on my personal Facebook is relevant as to whether I can do or cannot do a particular job.
In part two of this article, I will talk about solutions to help ease the pressure and worry about getting in trouble because of social media.