Data Mining: The Slippery Slope

February 27, 2011

Will Canada Follow Along? I Hope Not.

Recently, a ruling by the United States Federal Trade Commission gave internet data mining companies the legal right to collect our past, present, and future posts on social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, and then sell it to employers as a “background” checking service for potential job applicants. WOW! Considering some of the most personal and intimate information that some of us post in our social networks, would you want a potential employer to have access to this information. This US-based ruling has all kinds of implications attached such as:

  • What about our legal right from discrimination based upon race, gender, sexual orientation, physical, or mental disability and many more. An employer who is prohibited from asking such questions on a job application or in an interview, may be able to have access to this information from these data mining companies?
  • Given that young people live for the here and now and don’t really consider the future, what kind of long-term impact will personal postings in social networks have on their future job aspirations?
  • Could colleges and universities now use this information to decide if you are the type of student that I want at my academic institution?
  • Could anyone, other than an employer, have access to this same information if they pay a data mining company for such a service?
  • Could a current employer covertly use this information in a promotional process?

For years now I have stated in my Internet presentations that anything you post online is both PUBLIC and SEARCHABLE no matter what your privacy settings, so forewarned is forearmed!!! For those of you who still doubt that potential employers are data mining information about you online, here are a couple of charts from a 2010 Microsoft study that I am sure you will find very enlightening

Digital Food For Thought

Darren Laur

AKA #thewhitehatter

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