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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Facebook stalking not limited to students

    Although the year 1984 didn’t see the violation of society’s privacy the way that George Orwell’s novel suggested, young Americans are still in no position to let down their guard and believe that privacy has become a right.

    Instead of the government monitoring our actions and thoughts, we are willing to sell our privacy to others at very low cost.

    The evolution of technology and the creation of the Internet have positively impacted our lives, particularly with respect to school. Though an excellent resource for university students, library excursions are now unnecessary unless we need a place to feign or encourage academic productivity. Typing homework is no longer considered ambitious because owning a computer is essential at a university, even in high school and middle school. Despite the convenience of user-friendly technology today, we are running into problems that our parents never faced and have no idea how to react or fully protect ourselves.

    Both a student connection Web site and a procrastination stimulus, Facebook enables the youth of today to broadcast their personal information to the World Wide Web while essentially serving a personal and social purpose. We were told in our high school days that sharing personal facts on MySpace is hazardous, but only now are we starting to experience the effects of laughing at our parents’ seemingly unnecessary concerns.

    The executive search firm ExecuNet recently found that 77 percent of recruiters search their candidates on the World Wide Web as a screening process. Of these same recruiters, 35 percent admit that they have eliminated a candidate based on the information they uncovered.

    James Madison University conducted an interview with a Fortune 500 recruiter for a recent study. “”You’d be surprised at what I’ve seen when researching candidates,”” said the recruiter who began searching potential hires on the Internet. “”We were having a tough time deciding between two candidates until I found the profile of one of them on MySpace. It boasted a photo of her lounging on a hammock in a bikini, listed her interests as ‘having a good time’ and her sex as ‘yes, please.’ “”

    Though this woman may well be party to risqué behavior, her prospective employers were probably more concerned about the fact that she would be careless enough to share that with the world. She could have maintained her same randy personality during the applicant screening process and been hired had she not been so public about her favorite activities.

    While posting provocative pictures on Facebook or MySpace does not indicate the best judgment, employers seeking private information come across as having excessive distrust. These applicants have likely done nothing to earn their prospective boss’ suspicion, but employers are using Facebook and MySpace to weed out potential employees in an arbitrary way. As long as they keep doing this, online users will have to be more careful about what they are sharing with the world because they are putting more at stake than just their pride.

    The obvious solution to maintain privacy is for Facebookers and MySpacers to set their profile to “”friends only””. According to the same study by James Madison University, four out of five Facebook users keep the default settings to their profiles, allowing all members of their networks to view their profile. In the Arizona network, this allows over 42,657 members access to a public profile. A good start, but not enough; these online users need to be even more aware of what the World Wide Web can get their hands on. Sgt. Eugene Mejia, public information officer for the University of Arizona Police Department said in a recent Daily Wildcat news report that many profiles that are set to be private can still be accessed in some cases.

    Potential bosses still have the ability to see your profile picture, poke you, message you, add you to their friends list and research your friends, and a silly profile picture may be sufficient cause for the employers to toss your application, even if you have a friend in the picture who is making an unbecoming or unorthodox gesture that you had no control over. Deleting your Facebook profile altogether is also a challenge since your information will remain archived in the system in case you decide to re-activate your account.

    Although it may be nasty of employers to practically create reasons to turn away their applicants based on a Web site, nothing can stop them from doing so, and their access to everybody’s online activity will surely advance along with technology. The simplest solution to help Americans avoid the problem of being Facebook stalked is to be as careful as possible with what they post on the Internet. Even taking advantage of Facebook and MySpace’s privacy settings are not enough to secure users’ confidentiality. Students should make sure that there are no pictures posted of them engaging in illegal activity and should also think twice before typing something slightly inappropriate on a friend’s Web page. I know we have always been encouraged to be ourselves and embrace the people we are, but as the Internet continues to make our information available in myriad ways, we cannot really do that anymore.

    Laura Donovan is a creative writing sophomore. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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