I just read an article about a background check company Social Intelligence that is pretty scary. A potential employer can use this vetting company and others like it to check your background via your social networking presence. The research is so detailed that it could turn up something that you "liked" on Facebook and put it in your file, storing it for seven years. (This could put a job prospect in serious jeopardy if one of your "likes" was Recreational Arson or Bowling with Puppies.)
Social Intelligence searches everything you've said or posted to Twitter, MySpace, the Internet in general, including those rants you put on articles and blogs. This should be illegal right? Should be, but it's not. The FTC just determined that Social Intelligence Corp. is in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
I've written a lot about how increasing one's online presence can benefit an IT pro. But you'd almost have to reconsider this if every word you post is going to be noted in a dossier and most likely misconstrued by companies who look at it. And if you have a sense of humor, you can basically just call it a night, because there is no leeway with companies who don't practice a modicum of common sense.
Perhaps this service will be used for companies who only want a way of detecting people who might be problematic in a big way. Maybe they won't be looking at the notes that closely and drawing inaccurate conclusions. Maybe I'm being optimistic. What do you think?
Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.