Santa Barbara based Social Intelligence Corporation recently released a new product called Social Intelligence, which allows businesses to monitor the social networking websites of job applicants and employees.
The program draws online information about current or potential staff from web pages including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, filtering out private information protected under the Fair Credit Reporting Act while still providing information on issues such as frequent drug use or violent behavior. Businesses using the company’s service can now enforce social networking policies while avoiding the legal risks associated with using search engines to research applicants.
According to Social Intelligence CEO Max Drucker, Social Intelligence and similar products are essential for protecting individual privacy and corporate liability.
“The genie is out of the bottle; publically available personal information on the Internet is here to stay, which in turn creates discriminatory risks for job applicants and causes legal landmines for prospective employers,” Drucker said. “Social Intelligence allows the employee or job applicant to maintain a personal online persona without the risk of having this information used against them.”
Despite the program falling under legal guidelines, some people are still concerned about prospective or current employers obtaining access to the social network profiles.
Third-year environmental studies major Jeff Ciampaglia said he was unfamiliar with Social Intelligence and believes that companies using such programs are overstepping their boundaries.
“I do not want my boss seeing anything on my Facebook,” Ciampaglia said. “It is an invasion of privacy, fuck those companies.”
Other students defended the new program, arguing that checking social media sites is a useful tool for companies that want to find qualified applicants while screening those who could be detrimental to the work environment or a company’s reputation.
Third-year chemical engineering major Daniel Hickey said companies that utilize programs like Social Intelligence are in the right.
“I feel like companies have a lot vested in their employees and should be able to look at their profiles,” Hickey said. “The information is easy to find; I do not see why they would not.”
Deborah Artz, internship coordinator with UCSB’s Career Services, said she encourages students to clean up their profiles and activate privacy settings to ensure their online profile mirrors how they want to be seen in the workplace.
“Students are crazy not to be careful about what they put out through their Facebook without certain privacy settings. It is a little scary,” Artz said. “Learn how to use LinkedIn to your advantage, learn how to use it effectively. It is your professional face; make sure it represents you well.”