Rejected From College Because Of Your Facebook Profile?

from the your-new-permanent-record dept

We’ve all seen the stories about potential dates or employers scanning your social network profiles to decide what they think of you, but what about your potential university? Slashdot points us to a study suggesting that 10% of universities now examine social network profiles as part of their efforts to evaluate applicants. And, in some of those cases, the profiles hurt candidates to the point of having admissions directors change their minds. Other universities claim that they don’t think it’s right to view such “personal” spaces, but you have to wonder if that view will change over time. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with universities doing this. They’re used to just seeing a carefully controlled image of the student, and what’s on their social networking sites may reveal a lot more useful info. However, it seems like students should at least be aware that this public display of information is being added to their “permanent record” for consideration at universities.

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Rejected From College Because Of Your Facebook Profile?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
69 Comments
SteveD says:

It says a lot about a University that would turn away a student based on single drunken photo (although I guess there are the US drinking laws to conisder).

If Universities are there to prepare students for work in the real world they should follow the same employment rules as real businesses. For an employer to scrutinise or monitor the private life of an employee is widely deemed inappropriate.

And where does it end?

Will I someday find myself loosing out on a job because some bored HR worker googled my name and found some decade-old blog reply that didn’t fall in line with company values?

Interview and application processes work in a certain manner for a reason. Employers are required to structure these processes in a manner that demonstrates to regulators that selections are made without bias. References are provided to give employers the broader picture. If an employer goes on the net to start digging dirt on a candidate it quite clearly falls outside this regulation, publicly available or not.

some old guy (user link) says:

Re: Re:

For an employer to scrutinise (sic) or monitor the private life of an employee is widely deemed inappropriate.

No it’s not. It’s rather expected in almost all areas of expertise.

If you don’t like that, you shouldn’t be working at a place where personal performance matters. I myself have been in the position to hire/fire people for potential liabilities, and I have several times chosen to hire a less qualified candidate because (s)he did not brag about drinking problems online. I also had an employee brag about excessive drinking in the workplace. I told him he wasn’t allowed to drink on work nights if he couldn’t control his drinking. He chose to ignore me. The first time he came in with alcohol on the breath and hungover, he was fired.

Your personal life is a liability to your employer. They have a right to manage their liabilities.

cloksin says:

Re: Re: Re:

Some old guy, you are so out of lline its not funny,a person’s personal life is just that, personal, and if you actually do fire someone because you don’t like what they are doing in their personal life than you have the potential for a cival suit against you for wrongful termination. Get off your high horse and stop being such a bigot!!!

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

As long as I keep my personal life from overflowing into my work there is NO reason for an employer to stick his nose in it.

The employer does have that right. Because you have no right to be hired by him. It’s completely his discretion.

If he doesn’t want to hire you because he found a picture of you drunk on Facebook, that’s completely legal. Heck, he can choose not to hire you for wearing a pink shirt. He can choose not to hire you because you’re too smart. He can choose not to hire you because you went to the wrong university.

He can choose not to hire you for any reason other than your race, gender, disability, and religious orientation. (And in Michigan, for your weight.)

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

if you actually do fire someone because you don’t like what they are doing in their personal life than you have the potential for a cival suit against you for wrongful termination.

I don’t know where you live, but in the US it’s only illegal to fire or not hire someone based on historical discrimination such as race, gender, religion, disability, etc. It’s perfectly legal to fire someone (other than for union rules, which would not be a civil matter) merely because the boss doesn’t like you.

cloksin says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“I don’t know where you live, but in the US it’s only illegal to fire or not hire someone based on historical discrimination such as race, gender, religion, disability, etc. It’s perfectly legal to fire someone (other than for union rules, which would not be a civil matter) merely because the boss doesn’t like you.”

Actually, if you get fired because the boss tells you that he doesn’t like you, that’s wrongful termination. If they fire you because of something you did outside of work hours, that’s wrongful termination. Employee’s have a lot more rights than employers or the government like to let you know.

A Different Old Guy says:

Re: Re: Re: Clocksin

Yeah right. Just like it’s against the law to be discriminated against because you have long shoulder length hair, are wearing a turban or kirpan, in casual dress, or whatever. Regardless of your education, try being a muslim with shoulder length hair wearing standard middle east robes and see if you can get a job at a Wall street law firm. Even better, show up at a job interview with over dressed bling looking like a 1970’s pimp and see if you can get hired.

Of course rejection for any of these reasons are also eligible for a civil suit, but, the employer can make up many reasons as to why to not choose that person over another. If you make your personal life public, an employer will look at and take it into account, and if they don’t like it for any reason, you don’t get the job. That’s the reality of it.

My company has a no drinking law. Drink and you get fired. If you have a glass of wine at lunch, don’t return to the office that day. Can’t even buy a bottle of wine and keep it in your briefcase to take home. If at home and on call, no drinking. No exceptions. Want to keep working, don’t drink on company duty.

nasch says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Clocksin

Of course rejection for any of these reasons are also eligible for a civil suit,

Anything is eligible for a civil suit. Literally, anything. I can sue you because you smell bad, and that would have almost as much chance of success as the pimp suing an interviewer for not hiring him based on his clothing. Style of dress and hair are not in the protected categories for which discrimination is prohibited.

SteveD says:

Re: Re: Re:

“No it’s not. It’s rather expected in almost all areas of expertise. If you don’t like that, you shouldn’t be working at a place where personal performance matters.”

You’ve confused what I said.

I was trying to draw the line between what happens inside of work and outside of work, you’ve merged the two.

If something you do outside of work (such as drinking heavily the night before) effects your working performance then obviously, that’s an issue. Its quite different from you’re boss following you into a bar on the weekend and watching what you do (yeah, that’s in a public place too, thus it must be public and not private, right?).

Frank says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If Jim Halpert had a Myspace page, what would it look like?

Booze Cruise?
Rants about Dwight?
Poetry from Pam?
Discussions with Ryan?
All this could be twisted to fit whatever preconceived notion exists.

But what’s being missed is your hiring a person and them to accomplish a task and create a work product. You’re NOT hiring a social circle. Some are quick to rush to conclusions based on 3rd party info, and when Colleges make rash decisions without being given a chance to defend themselves, it really doesn’t benefit anyone. On the flip side of the coin, companies that continue this practice may very well have a real hard time retaining good employees who maintain a social life outside work. I imagine productivity may suffer because of group-think mentality and everyone hired lacks social or computer skills.

You work to live NOT live to work.

hegemon13 says:

Re: Re:

“For an employer to scrutinise or monitor the private life of an employee is widely deemed inappropriate.”

Indeed, but MySpace and Facebook are not “private life.” They are very public. Unfortunately, many of the current generation of teenagers don’t realize this. Over time, it will become common understanding that posting something on the internet is as public as publishing a book about it.

TPBer says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s because the younger gen (whatever) is basically clueless to privacy.

You know, keep your fucking mouth shut about anything you don’t want others to know. Who gives a fuck about your stupid escapades except other clueless retards. They definitely would not make very good employees that need any sort of security clearance.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Other universities claim that they don’t think it’s right to view such “personal” spaces

A personal space might be anywhere inside your underwear, your refrigerator, your porn stash underneath your mattress… but your personal space could never be a website fully accessible by the public. And anyone who thinks that a website that is fully accessible to the public is somehow private or personal is an idiot.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: Re:

What my performance have to do with personal life?

If you want your personal life to be private, keep it private. However, once make your personal life public, by placing your life on the internet for the entire planet to see, then you no longer have anything to complain about.

And if you had a choice wherein everything was equal, but one of the candidate might have a drinking problem, who would you hire? It doesn’t matter, the employer would hire the guy without the drinking problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Absolutely correct! It’s no longer personal once you put your life up on the internet for all to see. I’m assuming that people who don’t agree, would want to hide a certain aspect of their personal life to would be employers/schools. So, in that respect, don’t be stupid and put pictures of you taking bong hits or slamming beers on a Tuesday on your public webpage.

jfv2000 says:

Re: "Personal Life" - get real and get a clue....

The day you signed on to your employer’s health plan, group term life and disability plans they have a vested interest in your personal behavior. They pay at least a portion of the premiums on those things and even if they didn’t, there is still the expectation that you will be a dependable employee and that your coke-snorting won’t impair your ability to run that subway train or whatever. Get a clue. Look up the word “interdependent.”

BS says:

Personal

My personal life is just that; P-E-R-S-O-N-A-L!

As long as I keep my personal life from overflowing into my work there is NO reason for an employer to stick his nose in it. Old guy, you had NO right to tell that employee they couldn’t drink during the week. However, I do feel that you have every right to fire somone for showing up hungover and unable to perform their work adequately. Sounds like you’re an uptight dickwad that was looking for an excuse to fire the braggart. I suppose you’re happy with yourself now.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: Personal

As long as I keep my personal life from overflowing into my work there is NO reason for an employer to stick his nose in it.

The employer does have that right. Because you have no right to be hired by him. It’s completely his discretion.

If he doesn’t want to hire you because he found a picture of you drunk on Facebook, that’s completely legal. Heck, he can choose not to hire you for wearing a pink shirt. He can choose not to hire you because you’re too smart. He can choose not to hire you because you went to the wrong university.

He can choose not to hire you for any reason other than your race, gender, disability, and religious orientation. (And in Michigan, for your weight.)

some old guy (user link) says:

Re: Personal

Old guy, you had NO right to tell that employee they couldn’t drink during the week.

Just like you, he chose to mis-interpret my statement. When he was fired, he tried to get me fired by reporting me to HR for telling him what he could(n’t) do during his personal time.

I said he wasn’t allowed to drink if he couldn’t control it. Meaning, you better not drink if it means you are going to come to work drunk. Meaning, his personal life DID spill over into his work. And I didn’t fire him for drinking during his off time. I fired him for coming to work drunk.

HR backed me 100%.

Yes, I am happy with myself now.

kinnunen says:

Re: Personal

The first time you do something in your personal life while you can be easily identified as an employee of a company (going to the bar in a company shirt, bragging that you work for so-and-so inc.) that company is absolutely allowed to determine what you do when you’re not at work because you’re still affecting their image.

Medic says:

I understand here both sides are coming from. I’m an EMT and I can’t drink within 24 hrs of me working on the clock. I can understand that due to liability issues and safety for the patient, but if I’m off for the next couple of days and choose to drink then so be it. Also, it is always good to carry yourself in a manner that does hurt your image and where you are employeed. People can remember faces and they will always match the stupid actions to the face. If they see you in a respectable position, they will see you as that stupid person.

JBB says:

Doesn't have anything to do with the company?

“As long as I keep my personal life from overflowing into my work there is NO reason for an employer to stick his nose in it.”

Uh, yeah. By that logic, there’d never be a government sex scandal, and there’d be no reason to do a background check. Hey, if I steal or murder on my own time, why should the company care? Absolutely brilliant logic.

Doc (profile) says:

I can't believe someone said this...!

By SteveD

It says a lot about a University that would turn away a student based on single drunken photo (although I guess there are the US drinking laws to consider).

If Universities are there to prepare students for work in the real world they should follow the same employment rules as real businesses. For an employer to scrutinise or monitor the private life of an employee is widely deemed inappropriate. -[Dude… where do you work??? What employer DOESN’T care about what their employees do after work?]

And where does it end?

Will I someday find myself loosing out on a job because some bored HR worker googled my name and found some decade-old blog reply that didn’t fall in line with company values?

Interview and application processes work in a certain manner for a reason. Employers are required to structure these processes in a manner that demonstrates to regulators that selections are made without bias. References are provided to give employers the broader picture. If an employer goes on the net to start digging dirt on a candidate it quite clearly falls outside this regulation, publicly available or not.

Without bias? Where do YOU live? Certainly not in the United States. Color, Gender, personal presentability, and social ranking are STILL the most influential things in getting a job. Whether you LIKE it or not, or whether it’s legal or not does not matter.

You certainly won’t see McDonalds or Burger King discriminating, but any real firm that hires PROFESSIONALS, will do anything to make sure that the elite get hired. Period.

If you’re dumb enough, and irresponsible enough to display your so-called “PRIVATE LIFE” online. It ain’t private no more bub! Bccause you just showed everyone on the planet your “real” side. An employer sees you for 8 hours. But you have 16 more left in the day to make an ass of yourself and be a liability to your company.

KM says:

Where have you been???

Employers have been checking social sites since they have been around. My friends job does just that. If your not smart enough to change preferences to block unwanted viewers then dont use it. You don’t deserve a job if you cant make yourself look professional. Change your voice mail message. Delete or block your social profiles on the web. Dont use unprofessional email addresses. ITS NOT HARD PEOPLE!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

“Uh, yeah. By that logic, there’d never be a government sex scandal, and there’d be no reason to do a background check. Hey, if I steal or murder on my own time, why should the company care? Absolutely brilliant logic.”

Not to mention pre-employment drug screening. Just because someone smokes pot or something doesn’t mean that they are gonna be doing at or before work or that they would have to steal to support the habbit. But this is a legal process in America.

brwyatt says:

private life

I don’t think “personal life” or “private life” is a literal as everyone seems to think. I think that in this day and age anything you do on your free time or with friends is considered your “personal life” – AKA: not work or business – no matter how public it might be – at the local park or internet. It seems that so far others have been interpreting “private life” to mean what you do in a darkened room away from everyone’s view… which, I don’t know about y’all, but for me the only time I’m fully alone, not even talking to someone on line, I’m usually just sleeping, so based on y’all’s interpretation, only the fact that I sleep can’t be used against me. If I said that I hate either Obama or Mccain (etc), or that I hate Bush, or that my mother really pisses me off on a forum, blog, or even over AIM (yes, AIM conversations can be logged remotely)… my would-have-been-employer can decide to not hire me? Now, if I were posing about raping little girls or murder, that would be a different story that is a LEGAL issue and would be as much evidence as fingerprint or note left at the crime scene… ANYTHING that doesn’t have any relevance to the job in question should NOT be used in a decision to hire you (or accept you to university)… bad OR good. If you were applying for a job a an animal shelter and you blogged about how your dog was barking and you were in a bad mood and kicked it, no you should not be hired. But if you blogged about getting drunk and having sex and regretting it (etc)… then NO that SHOULD NOT be used in the decision. This is about discretion… anyone who refuses to hire (or fires) someone for something done in the past that has no relation to the job is a bigoted retard with his own skeletons in his own closet that he is trying to keep others away from.

hahaha says:

I really wonder what people have been smoking when they comment here.

Your personal life, as others have stated is in fact personal. However, Facebook and Myspace, if you don’t make them private…is NOT personal. It is available for public viewing and scrutiny.

If you are a corporation, and you go public, your financial documents are all available for public viewing, which may change the public’s view of said company.

You as an individual are no different. If you write stupidly on your blog, take drunken pictures dressed in drag, have a picture of you with a bong/hookah/whatever, and it’s all public…don’t be shocked if someone finds it and uses it against you.

Furthermore, it may not affect your performance, but it does affect image, and while an employer may not care about your personal image, they do care about their own and that of their company. As insignificant as your boozing might seem (and will continue to be), your employer may not see it that way.

Not to mention that, above all else, most places are “at will” and people forget that. Unless you’re with a union or something, you can be fired for any reason that does not descriminate by race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. You may also quit for any reason. Even that “two weeks notice” that most employers ask of you is only a courtesy, and you’d be hard pressed to find an employer who will give you ANY notice.

Benjamin Wright (profile) says:

end user license agreement (EULA) for social net pages?

To deter educators from viewing social networking pages, students might post legal terms of service under which educators agree to scram. This idea should not be taken as legal advice, just something to think about. –Ben http://hack-igations.blogspot.com/2007/11/privacy-advocates-such-as-nyu-professor.html

Nervous says:

It's not just you, too

There is also a growing risk that it won’t be your site that exposes your ‘seamier side”. Your friends that use the social networking sites can post your picture on their site, attribute it to you and not require permission. And once the information or images are on the net, it can be impossible to recall them.

The internet has become a new social medium that will require a new etiquette. It is not just a matter of how you present yourself but also how you present your friends and acquaintances.

Anonymous Coward says:

I can’t believe some of the idiotic comments on here. If you are the kind of person who posts questionable material on your myspace/facebook pages, then that says an incredible amount about you as a person. This is actually a great way of telling how immature a person is, what their priorities are, how well they will represent their future career/school.

To say a public website is a personal space is absurd. If you want it private, flag it private so they can’t view your pictures and personal information.

TheDock22 says:

Health Insurance

Wow I am surprised nobody brought up the point of health insurance and why companies ARE starting to take an interest in their employees personal life. Think about it this way. Company pays a certain percentage of money to supply health insurance for their employees. The employee kicks in some money to help out. Let’s say 80% of the employees use their health insurance responsibly, annual check up and maybe once or twice throughout the year for other illnesses. Now let’s say the other 20% are involved in risky activities when it comes to health (smoking, binge drinking, extremely dangerous sports, etc.) and end up using their health insurance benefits a lot plus missing work and taking sick days to recover from their vices.

What do you think is going to happen? The insurance company is going to step up and say “Hey, you need to start paying us more money if you abuse your benefits like this.” The company MAY be able to justify a couple dollar increase for the staff, but they sure can’t charge the 20% more money for their health benefits without a lawsuit. So suddenly the company is out money, your co-workers are out money, and all because you need to partake in risky activities. Of course companies have a right to take an interest in their employees “personal” life, as wrong as we might find this.

We live in a sad day and age where people think they can do whatever they want without consequence. We need to teach the next generation that their actions DO matter, and if that means being denied from college then so be it.

Sicko says:

Re: Health Insurance

“Don’t hire or keep sick people, they are disposable, just throw them away.”

What is really unfortunate is that the US business model and corporate greed has caused this to be a true statement. It says a lot about a country and it’s social values when the people of a country are merely treated as disposable items.

The US needs a serious change in the way it does business and takes care of it’s own. A major step towards socialized medecine while taxing corporate greed is needed.

JB says:

Use to Your Advantage

A kid could easily turn this around and use it to con his way into a college.

You could post pictures of yourself purportedly working with the special olympics, write about how you can’t go out with your friends because you’re helping serve meals at the soup kitchen, etc.

Set this up and then send out your college applications.

CEO says:

Gotta Be Kidding

To #27 brwyat who stated … “But if you blogged about getting drunk and having sex and regretting it (etc)… then NO that SHOULD NOT be used in the decision. This is about discretion… anyone who refuses to hire (or fires) someone for something done in the past that has no relation to the job is a bigoted retard.”

Yeah, sure. Nice rhetoric, but nowhere close to reality.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Gotta Be Kidding

He didn’t say that is how it is, just how it should or should not be, and I agree completely.

While I can understand the arguments supporting the right of companies/universities to do such things, I can’t help feeling disturbed by the implication that companies are effectively buying more than your skills or the work you do for them, they are buying YOU.

Mike_N_TN says:

Personal life is employers business

I guess maybe most of you work in mundane jobs where this isn’t an issue? I spent 9 years in the military and since leaving the military have worked as a civilian in the same career field.

My personal life is very much my employers business for the same reason a bank will run a credit check on prospective employees. If you have bad credit because you don’t pay your bills on time (which is personal) it could affect you on the job if you decide to steal money.

I am in a position where poor decisions in my personal life could potentially make me a liability to my employer because someone tries to blackmail me because of what I do off the job.

Depending on what you decide to do your employer may decide crawl up and down your personal life with a microscope and there is nothing you can do about it but go work at McDonald’s if you don’t like it.

Mike says:

Yeah right

“But if you blogged about getting drunk and having sex and regretting it (etc)… then NO that SHOULD NOT be used in the decision. This is about discretion… anyone who refuses to hire (or fires) someone for something done in the past that has no relation to the job is a bigoted retard.”

What if it wasn’t blogged? let’s say you had sex with the hiring guy’s cousin, and then dumped her. You didn’t blog about it, but the cousin told him verbally…

Would you get the job?

Considering says:

Would you want to fly on a plane where the pilot was out drinking the night before and possibly hung over? Would you like to order food from a chef that may or may not remember what the list of ingredients are in the meal? And that’s just the drinking aspect. Like it or not, there are business ramifications to social behavior. Even if you personally don’t care about these sorts of thing, employees and companies get sued regularly over what is considered negligence. That has to be a consideration when hiring.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hiring Decisions via Social Network? Why yes Of Course!

BEWARE! Here’s my story:

I’ve seen a rash of people with my name, putting up social network profiles. It’s kinda funny, because whenever I suffer boredom, I google myself, find another me, I send them an email. After all, who wouldn’t want to talk to someone with the same name? I have come to learn these guys live across the country. One of these guys, is my same age played football and also ran marathons. “Shit”, I thought, “that’s cool!” We conversed over email and talked about lots of stuff.

A year later, in passing, a boss at a company said something like “I bet you played football in Highschool”

“What??” I knew exactly what that meant, and I was dumbfounded. I didn’t have an answer for them, but after a while, they realized. Probably the bombshell was when I casually mentioned that I didn’t have two children. But instead of owning up to it, they were embarrassed and found an excuse to let me go- I finished my work. That’s great, huh?

But it’s absolutely astounding that these things are used to make any type of rational work related decision. After all, everything on the internet is true.

kilroy55 says:

personal info being hacked into by corporate firms or schools

if we have a face book or my space account that is being hacked into by company for university in order to view personal profiles…how is that legal?…keep seeing folks say “…well, if its private, don’t put it on the net for everyone to see…”. That is the point, it’s not for everyone to see…only people that we giver permission to. If you setup your account for everyone to see…then you have no right to complain. I am hearing of human resources dept. and IT folks teaming up to hack into potential employees after the interview process. If ANYONE gets access to my private face book profile without my permission, I would press charges.

Captain Obvious says:

Here is a simple solution:

Set your profile and albums to private. Use an alternate email address from you regular one and especially the one on your resume. If prospective employers ask you if you have a FB or Myspace profile, guess what you should say?? “NO!”
Also, don’t add people who you work with, unless you know they are 100% cool. Last but not least, use discretion when posting ANYTHING online.

Rosalind Sharpe says:

WHAT?

I cannot believe that the admmissions offices around the UK would do this. Many people act differently online than offline and I think that it is evil to judge people just because you watched their actions online for a day. It is outrageous and i would not feel safe acting out of line if I knew they were watching me. They might not know that the admissions office are watching them. DO you know if the hopeful students do know?
Thankyou.

Jeckyll (user link) says:

Make Your Albums Private

Always make sure to make your albums,wall posts,comments private.Or share it with specific people.Your data shouldn’t be viewed by everyone on Facebook.Actually,there are some security holes.Despite the fact that some people use hack tools to view the private profiles,everybody doesn’t know how to do this.So adjusting your account’s accessibility might work.

If you want to learn more about your account’s privacy,please take a moment to read this article;

http://www.facebookviewer.com/2011/10/how-to-hide-photo-album-of-yours.html

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...