Did you know that effective October 1, 2012, Maryland will become the first state to ban employers from requiring workers and prospective employees to disclose their user names and passwords to Facebook, Twitter and other personal social media accounts? It is pretty remarkable that employers would have the audacity to even think that they are entitled to such information. In this day and age, one should not be surprised at the openness and transparency of everything, including your personal life and how far that information can travel.
The social media culture, the images, the trends will truly prove to be a fascinating study for a cultural anthropologist one day. We all try our best to put forth an image that we can be proud of through various social channels touting our education, experience, families and successes. What is interesting to note is that through a series of screens, posts, tweets, we all build a character or persona of ourselves that outsiders digest and of course then form opinions. The real litmus test or the great equalizer is the real face to face or the working relationship. If you scratch the social profile surface, does the image remain consistent?
And that is the inherent problem with social media. What you are seeing may be akin to a Hollywood movie, someone who has carefully crafted a story that they want you to believe. Social media can be a very powerful tool, but it is also very one dimensional. Remember, it is just as easy to omit information as it is to share it. Can you imagine an individual who would tweet or post that they had been fired on the spot in a parking lot or stolen corporate data or any number of terrible circumstances? Probably not, but sometimes people can be really short sighted and impulsive (i.e. stupid). The Maryland legislation is geared to protect privacy and rightfully so. Vetting and researching prospective hires/employees and vendors through social media is not ideal and hardly presents one with an in-depth profile. Even if you believe you are well versed in a persona/organization, a few phone calls to references or past employers, discussions with real people about real situations are essential.