Counterpoint: Is it ethical for colleges and jobs to use social media for profiling?

Carly Perlmutter, Staff Writer

Social media: blessing or curse? While it can be used to connect users around the globe, it can also be a major source for distraction and even an invasion of privacy, as everything is slowly but surely becoming public information with the ever-changing online culture.

“Social media distracts you from the real individual, it just shows you the ‘outside’ of a person,” said senior Max Egna.

With an influx of social media in our culture, people look more and more to Facebook to glean a first impression of someone when making new friends or in informal situations.  This practice has begun to carry over to formal application processes.  A recent survey conducted by Kaplan Test Prep revealed that 24% of the 359 admissions officers interviewed used social media to research an applicant. With only a name and a quick Google search necessary to potentially view a host of information about an individual, the idea is tempting.  However, it is also unfair.

A viable compromise and option instead could be if admissions officers viewed social media as an introduction to a person as opposed to a part of their actual application.

What one chooses to display on their Facebook profile is rarely a fair representation of themselves.  This is especially prevalent in the social media culture of the younger generations, who misrepresent themselves online to better suit a perceived ideal.  Therefore, it is illogical for colleges, and eventually employers, to base assumptions for something as important as your future on social media. What as a teenager we find to be appropriate may not be appropriate later in life, so why should we penalized for it?

“Facebook is a virtual representation of yourself.  Some people might make their profile as realistic as they want, while others will make it far from accurate. It is hard to be a judge of a person’s validity,” said junior Davida Harris.

Social media now follows us everywhere that we go.  A recent survey by Time Magazine indicated that 93% of employers and hiring managers will look at an applicant’s social media pages before finalizing a decision on whether or not to hire a person.  Moreover, the survey revealed that 55% of these employers at least partially reconsidered the applicant after viewing their social media. The implications of this are very dangerous, as it seems that we can not put anything on the internet or social media sites without them potentially coming back to harm us in future years or endeavors.

This practice of not just reviewing candidates for academics or employment with social media, but actually basing decisions on these outlets, is unfair and subjective.  There is a multitude of socioeconomic, religious, and geographic variables that could potentially change how a candidate or applicant is viewed.  While this may not be the intention, universities and employers could be spreading a dangerous message: take caution when expressing yourself freely, as it may harm you in the future.

“When hiring, it makes sense to do a background check, but I think it is unnecessary to evaluate someone based on their personal, non-professional lives,” said junior Lucy Hurt.

Every admissions officer and boss screens social media differently, which means that with social media involved, there is no uniform way to properly review a person.  Since there is no specific way to evaluate someone using social media, this will continue to contribute to unbalanced advantages and disadvantages in the hiring process. There are also some alleged screenings that have prejudices dependent upon gender.

“Some companies specifically check women’s social media outlets in order to see if they’re pregnant.  If they are, these women are less likely to be hired due to their future leave of absence” said junior Davida Harris.

Not only is this screening therefore specifically demoralizing to women, but similar actions have been used towards age and race.  Social media checking must be stopped, not only because of its inability to judge character but also because of its lack of objectivity.

The idea of including social media in a reviewing an applicant for college admissions or a desired job is unfair in theory and in practice.  If we include these sites, where does a person’s application truly begin and end?  Basing opinions of a person on their internet presence is a difficult endeavor to fairly manage.