Saturday, April 4, 2015

Facebook and All About Me

A couple years ago there was highly publicized criticism over employers asking potential employees to turn over their Facebook login userid and password as part of the interview process.  This resulted in laws being passed to prevent that, but to me the central theme was all wrong.  The potential employees saw it as an invasion of their privacy or just that they view their personal identity as separate from their professional identity and what they do on their own nickel as no business to business.  Employers wanted to learn more about the person than a well-rehearsed interview tells them.  Both miss the real point.

What would I have done if I found myself being asked for my Facebook account? One of two things.  Probably just got up and left, then wrote their CEO and HR VP a letter that I don't share their company's values on work-life balance, privacy and confidentiality.  But I also would have missed the real point, as I attempted to allude to in part of the title of this article, "All About Me".  Giving up my Facebook login allows someone that was not granted access to see other’s posts, not just mine.  Giving up my login compromises a couple hundred other people’s, my friends, right to their expectation of privacy.  So I'm not giving up just me, I'm giving up them.  I don't have the moral right to do that.  So the second choice would be to say something like "while I don't mind giving you access to my posts, for I have nothing to hide, you will have to get permission from all my Facebook friends before I betray their trust".  And I'm not giving you their names since that's also betrays their trust in me.  Case closed.

This mental "All About Me" model is so pervasive in our world today, from drivers behind the wheel to shoppers in the grocery store.  But it surprises me to see this in the Social Media space, where it should be abundantly clear that others are sharing their thoughts, hopes, prayers and cat pictures with me and hundreds of their friends.  Why wouldn't our first reaction to being asked for our Facebook login be that this would violate other people's rights?

As our world becomes more socially interconnected, our mental model needs to shift to "All About Us" and keep "Us" first and foremost.  Employers wouldn't have asked for login credentials in the first place and people wouldn’t have given them.  They would know better.

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