Ridiculous headlines spur dumb conversations

An AP News article came out today entiled, “Job seekers getting asked for Facebook passwords.” Sounds crazy, right?  This spurred a bunch of follow-on articles/posts like the one below, Facebook and Twitter mentions, etc.

Except when you actually read the content of the article (the one above), it turns out that these were rare and specific instances, mostly within the realm of law enforcement positions.  Does that make it right or more acceptable? Maybe not, but it is certainly a very different topic with different arguments.  This is not a widespread tactic, but a rare (albeit bizarre) circumstance.  It would be no different if a headline said, “Employers assign specialists to do a 6 month background check, interviewing your closest friends and family.”  It is true that for certain government and law enforcement jobs that is the case, but generalizing it in the headline is misleading.

Because a lot of lazy online readers don’t read the full content of articles, arguments and speculations about the generalized assumption proliferate and before long people are wasting their time arguing about something that isn’t even the case.

How do we fix this problem of sensationalized headlines spurring a domino effect of inappropriate conclusions?

Employers Want Your Facebook Password

Candidates are being asked with alarming frequency to share their Facebook logins with employers. It’s becoming a widespread practice that’s not limited to tech by any means, which represents a dangerous development in your efforts to separate your personal and professional lives.

We need this to understand how you use our service - you can take it out if you like. Cheers, your Blogspire team.

via: news.dice.com


7 responses to “Ridiculous headlines spur dumb conversations

  1. Maybe article authors are after the deeper truth – employers *do* want my facebook password. They just are not asking for it because that would be rude, unethical and possibly illegal 🙂

  2. @Slava Call me skeptical, but I think the authors are after pageviews, SEO, etc. with their headlines, not deeper truth.

    Maybe you’re right about the fact that they do care what’s on your Facebook page? But I think that’s only true of certain employers and for certain reasons. The reason why they want people’s passwords is not to control the account but simply because of Facebook’s confusing privacy paradigm. As per usual, I think the market will solve this for employers.

  3. I agree with your analysis of the media and their desire to sensationalize things. However, as an attorney who primarily represents police officers, I can tell you that it is a real issue. I recently had a client subjected to discipline as a result of a posting on Facebook. So, while it may seem unimaginable, it is happening.

  4. @Donovan Thanks for your comment. I don’t doubt that it’s a real issue in professions like law enforcement but I don’t think that a generalized headline makes sense in this case. A debate about law enforcement officers/government officials and their rights to privacy is a different one, IMHO, than for that of the general public. The headline should have reflected that.

  5. I’m hanging my head in shame, guilty as charged in this case. Normally, I follow the links, read the source articles, see the real case – especially when it’s something as outrageous and even ludicrous as this. But I was primed by some friends mentioning this first, and discussions with them, and then seeing an article in another source I usually trust. My initial thought was that there is no way anyone is getting away with this for routine pre-employment or pre-interview screening. But after several friends “assured” me it was happening, my intellect was softened up by outrage and fear, and I fell for it. Your point is well made and well taken. Salute.

  6. Not an inane response to this headline, as I have heard about this practice prior to the current AP story. Further, it was discussed on NPR with an acknowledgement that while it was mostly limited to law enforcement and espionage, employers in more everyday lines of work were becoming emboldened enough to demand it as well. No shame here. This *is* starting to become a problem.

  7. @Judy – I think this happens to everyone. I try to be careful about it now…

    @Ben – perhaps it is becoming an issue, but AP didn’t cite any more mainstream cases of this. If it is becoming an issue, they should have evidence about that or just craft a more accurate headline?

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