Law Students Say Message Board Postings Are Costing Them Job Offers

from the if-it's-online-it-must-be-true dept

As people increasingly live and document their lives online, stories about potential employers doing web searches on job candidates and turning up information candidates would rather not have them see -- information that often costs them a shot at the job -- are becoming more common. The Washington Post has a front-page story on this topic today, focusing on some law-school students who aren't having a lot of luck finding jobs, and blaming it on message board postings. What makes this story a little bit different is that the students didn't make the postings themselves, they're just the subject of certain threads and messages -- some which could possibly be viewed as defamatory, while others are simply unbecoming (such as a discussion of a female student's breasts). The employers weren't finding the students' MySpace pages or blogs, or other sites documenting their personal lives, but rather their inadvertent digital resumés were being created by other people. The article seems to put the blame on the owner of a particular site that's popular among law students, but that's misplaced -- perhaps the more questionable activity is on the part of employers who are using this information. If they're going to search the web, they need to have the understanding that people can't control what other people say or post about them (similar to the idea of hearsay in a courtroom), and that not every mention that casts a student in a poor light is true, or an indication of their character. It's also not entirely clear why potential employers should consider many of these comments relevant to their hiring decisions, though one person says law firms are afraid of candidates who could attract controversy. Of course, it's also possible that comments a person labels as "defamatory" may be unflattering, but true. While site owners have no legal liability for what third parties post on their sites, thanks to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, at least one company senses an opportunity here, and searches for potentially damaging content online and "destroy it on behalf of clients", which we'll assume to mean they drown site owners with cease and desist orders and threats of lawsuits akin to legal bullying. All in all, this sounds like quite a bit of overreaction -- not just on the students' parts, but from their potential employers, too.

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  1. identicon
    Edward, 7 Mar 2007 @ 1:46pm

    Yeah, it's long.

    This is just one of hundreds of issues today that make me fucking sick. I hate the world we live in for stupidity like this. People are fucking idiots. Do you have any idea how qualified some of the people getting turned down because of this bullshit are? People today say 'law students' like they're apprentice construction workers. Do you have any idea what kind of horror a law student has to go through? I am currently a business student at the Smith school of Business at the University of Maryland, not a law student (law is so much more in depth and mentally trying), and after all the shit I have to deal with, when the time comes for me to get my first job, to start making the money I deserve to be making after all the unfathomable amounts of insanely hard work I put in over years and years of school, if I was rejected based on some internet search, I would lose my fucking mind. I would beat the living shit out of that (spell with me, now, RJD) PROspective employer, and if I as a human being could do no more, I'd probably want to kill myself knowing that my job opportunities for life were partially destroyed because some asshole wrote "I loved that fat blunt we smoked last weekend" on some message board. And that's illegal! These law students are getting turned down because of things like "man, I thought you were gonna puke for sure after that 10th shot" being posted under pictures of them out with their friends, legally drinking, at a legal venue. What, now that there exists physical evidence of specific good times, those involved are blacklisted like fucking felons?? Before this intense background checking bullshit was ever implemented, I guarantee there were many, many high-ranking executives who were the absolute best at what they did, who, on their free time, did things so remarkably deviant, or even criminal, had it been known, they would be arrested. Did they bring said activities to the workplace? No! Nobody knows if the generation hired before this mockery of a background checking method was first used smokes weed, hires hookers, is a contract killer on the weekends...because it's fucking irrelevant. I understand wanting the best possible employees in all areas for a job opening in your company, but mark my words, the next time some overqualified law student gets turned away from a job because his asshole potential employer saw the word "boobs" in his Facebook profile, I hope to God that law student was the prophetic key to saving the company he was rejected by from bankruptcy, that the potential employer loses everything he owns as a result, the student gets employed by a lesser firm where the douche bag who rejected him then tries to get a job, enabling that law student, now an employed lawyer, to do his own "background check" on the asshole, and not give the sniveling little prick a chance in hell to get a job. Fuck this, man. Fuck everything and everybody that is ruining the fucking world. People are fucking idiots.

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