This week’s readings have led me to think about the level of online exposure that our generation has become comfortable with. People are constantly adding to their online profile by searching on Google, uploading pictures to Facebook and tweeting on Twitter…and all of this is at will. The general public often forgets that nearly all of their actions online are often recorded, tracked and searchable. This means that even when looking to let out frustration, the internet is not really a safe forum. That same vent may come back to haunt you in the future.
Luckily, for the vast majority of an individual’s data will likely make for fairly boring reading for an outsider. It’s extremely unlikely that I will miss out on a job offer due to updating my Facebook statue with lyrics from a song. The most that my interactions with social media will do is humanize me and potentially give a potential employer insight into my personality.
Unfortunately, it is possible to have an online presence that is not associated with at-will sharing; people are also being tracked by sources out of their control. In this week’s case, the job applicant is at risk of losing a job offer because of her history as an activist. The potential employer ran a Google search that turned up news articles that linked her to her past in activism. Since news pages often out rank personal ones on Google, the record of her history is not only out of her control, it is also extremely difficult to bury down in Google’s ranks.
If I were in the shoes of the potential employer, I would request a follow-up interview and address the items that were discovered in her background check. Since the activism was directly related to the job that she was applying for, it makes sense to obtain further information. Her involvement in the issues appear to have been very deep at one point, but that point was nine years ago. A lot can change in nine years and it does not make sense to immediately turn away a highly qualified individual for her past beliefs on an issue.
As an adult, I understand the ramifications of my actions fully both online and off and am careful to protect my online presence. Luckily, my generation was old enough to understand this before the internet grew to be so prevalent. As future generations are raised on the internet, will they understand the need to protect their online presence?