[iDC] Re: What you myspace will be held against you

Dara G dara at daragreenwald.com
Tue Jun 13 13:13:23 EDT 2006

certainly - not just the cops, nsa, etc

from this Sundays NYT

June 11, 2006
For Some, Online Persona Undermines a Résumé

When a small consulting company in Chicago was looking to hire a  
summer intern this month, the company's president went online to  
check on a promising candidate who had just graduated from the  
University of Illinois.

At Facebook, a popular social networking site, the executive found  
the candidate's Web page with this description of his interests:  
"smokin' blunts" (cigars hollowed out and stuffed with marijuana),  
shooting people and obsessive sex, all described in vivid slang.

It did not matter that the student was clearly posturing. He was done.

"A lot of it makes me think, what kind of judgment does this person  
have?" said the company's president, Brad Karsh. "Why are you  
allowing this to be viewed publicly, effectively, or semipublicly?"

Many companies that recruit on college campuses have been using  
search engines like Google and Yahoo to conduct background checks on  
seniors looking for their first job. But now, college career  
counselors and other experts say, some recruiters are looking up  
applicants on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Xanga  
and Friendster, where college students often post risqué or teasing  
photographs and provocative comments about drinking, recreational  
drug use and sexual exploits in what some mistakenly believe is  
relative privacy.

When viewed by corporate recruiters or admissions officials at  
graduate and professional schools, such pages can make students look  
immature and unprofessional, at best.

"It's a growing phenomenon," said Michael Sciola, director of the  
career resource center at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn.  
"There are lots of employers that Google. Now they've taken the next  

At New York University, recruiters from about 30 companies told  
career counselors that they were looking at the sites, said Trudy G.  
Steinfeld, executive director of the center for career development.

"The term they've used over and over is red flags," Ms. Steinfeld  
said. "Is there something about their lifestyle that we might find  
questionable or that we might find goes against the core values of  
our corporation?"

Facebook and MySpace are only two years old but have attracted  
millions of avid young participants, who mingle online by sharing  
biographical and other information, often intended to show how funny,  
cool or outrageous they are.

On MySpace and similar sites, personal pages are generally available  
to anyone who registers, with few restrictions on who can register.  
Facebook, though, has separate requirements for different categories  
of users; college students must have a college e-mail address to  
register. Personal pages on Facebook are restricted to friends and  
others on the user's campus, leading many students to assume that  
they are relatively private.

But companies can gain access to the information in several ways.  
Employees who are recent graduates often retain their college e-mail  
addresses, which enables them to see pages. Sometimes, too, companies  
ask college students working as interns to perform online background  
checks, said Patricia Rose, the director of career services at the  
University of Pennsylvania.

Concerns have already been raised about these and other Internet  
sites, including their potential misuse by stalkers and students  
exposing their own misbehavior, for example by posting photographs of  
hazing by college sports teams. Add to the list of unintended  
consequences the new hurdles for the job search.

Ana Homayoun runs Green Ivy Educational Consulting, a small firm that  
tutors and teaches organizational skills to high school students in  
the San Francisco area. Ms. Homayoun visited Duke University this  
spring for an alumni weekend and while there planned to interview a  
promising job applicant.

Curious about the candidate, Ms. Homayoun went to her page on  
Facebook. She found explicit photographs and commentary about the  
student's sexual escapades, drinking and pot smoking, including  
testimonials from friends. Among the pictures were shots of the young  
woman passed out after drinking.

"I was just shocked by the amount of stuff that she was willing to  
publicly display," Ms. Homayoun said. "When I saw that, I thought,  
'O.K., so much for that.' "

Ms. Rose said a recruiter had told her he rejected an applicant after  
searching the name of the student, a chemical engineering major, on  
Google. Among the things the recruiter found, she said, was this  
remark: "I like to blow things up."

Occasionally students find evidence online that may explain why a job  
search is foundering. Tien Nguyen, a senior at the University of  
California, Los Angeles, signed up for interviews on campus with  
corporate recruiters, beginning last fall, but he was seldom invited.

A friend suggested in February that Mr. Nguyen research himself on  
Google. He found a link to a satirical essay, titled "Lying Your Way  
to the Top," that he had published last summer on a Web site for  
college students. He asked that the essay be removed. Soon, he began  
to be invited to job interviews, and he has now received several offers.

"I never really considered that employers would do something like  
that," he said. "I thought they would just look at your résumé and  

Jennifer Floren is chief executive of Experience Inc., which provides  
online information about jobs and employers to students at 3,800  
universities. "This is really the first time that we've seen that  
stage of life captured in a kind of time capsule and in a public  
way," Ms. Floren said. "It has its place, but it's moving from a  
fraternity or sorority living room. It's now in a public arena."

Some companies, including Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Ernst & Young and  
Osram Sylvania, said they did not use the Internet to check on  
college job applicants.

"I'd rather not see that part of them," said Maureen Crawford Hentz,  
manager of talent acquisition at Osram Sylvania. "I don't think it's  
related to their bona fide occupational qualifications."

More than a half-dozen major corporations, including Morgan Stanley,  
Dell, Pfizer, L'Oréal and Goldman Sachs, turned down or did not  
respond to requests for interviews.

But other companies, particularly those involved in the digital world  
like Microsoft and Métier, a small software company in Washington,  
D.C., said researching students through social networking sites was  
now fairly typical. "It's becoming very much a common tool," said  
Warren Ashton, group marketing manager at Microsoft. "For the first  
time ever, you suddenly have very public information about almost any  

At Microsoft, Mr. Ashton said, recruiters are given broad latitude  
over how to work, and there is no formal policy about using the  
Internet to research applicants. "There are certain recruiters and  
certain companies that are probably more in tune with the new  
technologies than others are," he said.

Microsoft and Osram Sylvania have also begun to use networking sites  
in a different way, participating openly in online communities to get  
out their company's messages and to identify talented job candidates.

Students may not know when they have been passed up for an interview  
or a job offer because of something a recruiter saw on the Internet.  
But more than a dozen college career counselors said recruiters had  
been telling them since last fall about incidents in which students'  
online writing or photographs had raised serious questions about  
their judgment, eliminating them as job candidates.

Some college career executives are skeptical that many employers  
routinely check applicants online. "My observation is that it's more  
fiction than fact," said Tom Devlin, director of the career center at  
the University of California, Berkeley.

At a conference in late May, Mr. Devlin said, he asked 40 employers  
if they researched students online and every one said no.

Many career counselors have been urging students to review their  
pages on Facebook and other sites with fresh eyes, removing  
photographs or text that may be inappropriate to show to their  
grandmother or potential employers. Counselors are also encouraging  
students to apply settings on Facebook that can significantly limit  
access to their pages.

Melanie Deitch, director of marketing at Facebook, said students  
should take advantage of the site's privacy settings and be smart  
about what they post. But students may not be following the advice.

"I think students have the view that Facebook is their space and that  
the adult world doesn't know about it," said Mark W. Smith, assistant  
vice chancellor and director of the career center at Washington  
University in St. Louis. "But the adult world is starting to come in."

On Jun 9, 2006, at 8:16 PM, Ryan Griffis wrote:

> on a more microl level... in Chicago recently i witnessed a teen  
> party being broken up by a bunch of patrol cops. A person i was  
> with asked the cops what was going on, they said they found out  
> about the party from myspace.
> ryan
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